The Denver Broncos waived quarterback Kyle Orton on Tuesday. While there are several teams that could use a veteran quarterback, it is possible that his next stop could be back in Chicago.
The move was unanticipated, as it’s been an odd quarterback rollercoaster in Denver this season. Orton began the season as the starter, with Brady Quinn the backup and Tim Tebow listed as third on the depth chart. After a 1-4 start, and much pressure from Tebow’s faithful fans, Tebow was elevated from the number 3 position and has gone 4-1 as a starter.
While many Broncos fans are sold, executive vice president of football operations John Elway indicated on Monday that he didn’t believe the Broncos have found their quarterback of the future. Apparently, Orton isn’t in the running any longer.
Broncos coach John Fox said, “This was the right decision for our football team. We feel good about our quarterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents.”
“I spoke with Kyle earlier today and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos,” Fox added. “He was a true professional throughout this season. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him as both a player and as a person.”
Team sources indicate that the Broncos will sign quarterback Adam Weber from their practice squad to replace Orton on the roster, presumably leaving Quinn in the backup role.
The last two seasons in Denver, Orton threw for over 3,600 yards each season, and a total of 41 TDs to 21 INTs over the two years. His passing efficiency was in the high 80s each season.
Orton has let it be known that Chicago, the team that drafted him in 2005 and where he played until 2008, would be one place he’d like to play. The Bears traded Orton for Jay Cutler, who is now out for the season with a thumb injury.
Multiple sources have indicated that the Bears are interested in signing Orton, but he must go through the waiver process, meaning that other teams have a shot at him first. The waiver process goes through based upon record, and with a 7-3 record, the Bears will be one of the last teams to have a chance to sign him. Based on the various tie breakers, the Bears are 30th on the waiver list.
In addition to the Bears, other potential landing spots for Orton include the Indianapolis Colts (with Peyton Manning still out, the Colts continue to struggle through a winless season), the Washington Redskins (who have been juggling Rex Grossman and John Beck, neither of whom have performed terribly well), the Kansas City Chiefs (who just lost starter Matt Cassel for the season), and the Houston Texans (who just lost starter Matt Schaub for the rest of the season with a foot injury).
Orton has just become the hottest quarterback commodity on the market, at a point in the season where several teams are struggling, and two serious contenders (Chicago and Houston) just lost their starters for the season. The Orton story is far from over, and the NFL season just got a lot more interesting.