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Orton's Absence Prompts Red Flags at Valley Ranch

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News
    Kyle Orton and Miles Austin talk in the first half.

    If red flags were raised by quarterbacks during the Cowboys’ first week of off-season workouts at Valley Ranch, we expected them to be Tony Romo’s back.

    Nope, try Kyle Orton’s absence.

    The veteran backup makes $3.2 million and is the NFL’s second-highest paid No. 2 behind the Dolphins’ Matt Moore. His agent has said repeatedly that his client isn’t contemplating retirement. He played admirably in last season’s finale against the Eagles, throwing for 358 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s only 31. And, above all else, the workouts are voluntary.

    Orton will not be fined for missing days. But he will create doubt.

    Is Romo’s backup flirting with retirement? Is he making a contract negotiation ploy? Or did he just decide to sleep in?

    The Cowboys won’t panic about Orton’s status until the mandatory June minicamp. But by then will it be too late?

    They obviously acquired an insurance policy by signing Brandon Weeden, but the prospect of not having a more proven backup to Romo is scary. The Cowboys attended the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week and at their recent “Dallas Day” tryouts they invited Garrett Gilbert (SMU) and Casey Pachall (TCU).

    If worse comes to worse, the Cowboys can always trade or even release Orton. All that is premature as we sit here in mid-April.

    But questions at quarterback always raise red flags. Even when it’s not Romo’s back.

    A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.