When the Broncos cut Kyle Orton on Tuesday afternoon, it immediately started a buzz of anticipation that he would wind up back in Chicago as an injury replacement for Jay Cutler, the man the Bears traded Orton for a few seasons back.
Such a move makes plenty of sense. Caleb Hanie has zero NFL starting experience and the Bears, at 7-3, need a surer hand on the rudder to finish their voyage to the playoffs. Orton wouldn't be totally up to speed on the offense, but he's been around the block enough to run a stripped down version well enough to let the Bears defense and run game do the heavy lifting.
The only problem with that scenario is that there are 29 teams ahead of the Bears in the waiver order for a shot at Orton's services. Some of those teams need a quarterback -- the Colts, Redskins and Chiefs -- but it's hard to imagine spending the $2.5 million Orton is owed makes sense for teams with no real shot of making it to the postseason.
Then there are the teams competing with the Bears for a playoff spot. The Lions, Giants and Falcons have no need for Orton, but they should have an interest in keeping Chicago as weak as possible. And, of course, the Cowboys qualify in this category as well.
Orton's remaining salary probably isn't much of a stumbling block. Jerry Jones would surely talk himself into spending $2.5 million for a playoff spot (he'd probably spend it for the chance at a playoff spot, actually), especially when he'd put himself into position to make even more by making the postseason.
But Orton makes some sense for the Cowboys for another reason. Jon Kitna didn't travel to Washington last week, he hasn't practiced this week and seems unlikely to be on the field Thursday. Should something happen to Tony Romo, how comfortable would you feel with Stephen McGee controlling the team's playoff future? Orton would probably be an upgrade over a healthy Kitna as well, so he'd be an attractive insurance policy for a team that's probably going to have to fight to the last week for a spot in the playoffs.
If all that isn't enough, there's also the fact that Orton rocks a pretty sweet beard. Not much on-field value, obviously, but those shots of the sideline would be more interesting.
Orton obviously wants to wind up in Chicago or, failing that, somewhere else he can play and raise his stock heading into free agency. Unless he wants to pass up the cash coming his way, he's going to be go wherever he gets claimed and hope for the best.
It isn't often you get a chance to potentially hurt a rival and help yourselves with a move this late in the season. The Cowboys might believe McGee is good enough to hold the job, but they'd be foolish not to seriously consider putting in a claim on Orton and giving him the next 10 days to learn the offense and become the team's backup quarterback.
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