Cowboys Editorial: Orton+Bills = Bigger Issue

The Cowboys waited for Kyle Orton to retire as long as they thought they could. But in the end, gave him his release. Now, he'll be suiting up for another organization.

The Cowboys have moved on, but this one still has to sting.

Last night, it was announced that Buffalo, hurting desperately for a backup quarterback after their entire stable of signal callers underwhelmed throughout the preseason, have signed Kyle Orton.

That’s right, Kyle Orton. $10.5 million, 3 year deal that didn’t expire until the end of this season, Kyle Orton.

Orton was the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who was released by the team back in July, after they grew weary of him not reporting to offseason work. At the time, owner and General Manager Jerry Jones admitted that he no longer thought Orton would retire, as the player had led them to believe.

The condensed timeline is as follows. Orton told the club that he was considering retirement soon after the completion of the 2013 season. The Cowboys waited. And waited. And waited. The amateur draft came and went in May, and Orton still had not declared. Offseason workouts started, and Orton still had not declared retirement, or shown up. As training camp approached, the Cowboys, who had signed Brandon Weeden on an extremely cheap deal, decided they were tired of waiting to hear from Orton, gave him his release.

Now, Orton is in Buffalo, and though the Cowboys knew this was a distinct possibility, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine this doesn’t burn them up a little bit.

An Orton retirement would have netted the Cowboys much greater cap space savings then they ended up receiving. In fact, the release of Kyle Orton post June 1st means that he is still on the Cowboys 2015 books as dead money. To wit, from our coverage of his release here on CowboysHQ:

If he had played, Orton would have counted $4.3775m against the 2014 cap. With his retirement, there is no base salary to pay, so only his prorated signing bonuses count against the cap. With a cap hit of $1.1275m, the release actually gives Dallas $3.25 million of more space. However, the remaining unamortized bonus that was to be charged to 2015 and 2016 ($1.1275m respectively) now hits the 2015 cap as "dead money", totaling $2.255m.

If Orton had retired, Dallas would have gained $4.3775 million of 2014 space, and had no future dead money.


Kyle Orton, Leader of Men.(Getty Images)

When Orton’s lack of participation first started to surface publicly, I quickly went into “why come” mode. Here’s what I pondered back in May on Blogging The Boys:

I think they wrapped Kyle Orton up in a warm, soothing ooze of 'Hey baby girls' like a Sugar Daddy in the parking lot of a Freshman Social at the local college campus.

And he fell for it. Hook, line, sinker, neckbeard trim and all.

I think they told Orton that being the backup pretty much guaranteed that he would get his chance to shine during the season.

Again, this is all just me speculating. But I think Orton believed he would play a lot more than the 61 pass attempts he's thrown over the last two seasons. Romo has played over the last few seasons with a back injury and has only missed one start, the 2013 season finale.

Competitors want to compete. Firstly, I think Orton signed here with thoughts that he'd have a legitimate shot at glory. Don't talk to me about how he should be happy to sit and collect his $3 million to ride the pine. I think Kyle Orton is trying to make a play so he can go somewhere and make a play.

And now, he has that chance. Funny, when I wrote that back in May, I stood alone in my disdain for Orton and what I saw the situation devolving into. Incumbent Buffalo starter E.J. Manuel has had a bad camp, and Orton is putting himself in a position slide right into a starting gig. While missing an entire offseason of grueling camp work.

Dallas is in dire need of help on defense as they try to assemble a roster for the 2014 season. Would Orton as a trade chip not look good considering what the Bills were facing? A trade would have left the Cowboys with the same salary cap space as what they have now, but also a tangible asset to be used to improve the team. It might have been a player Buffalo was going to release that Dallas would have preference over. It might have been a conditional draft pick. It should have been something, anything.

However, Dallas chose to walk away from an asset and avoid the media drama that would have ensued if they had held onto him, without him reporting. There’s something to be said about the organization eschewing this spotlight.. it seems that they’ve tired of being the butt of national jokes. More power to them; but that doesn’t mean it was the right call.


Former Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff(Getty Images)

This is the second player within the last year that has basically snaked his way out of playing for the Dallas Cowboys; and that might be a sign of a much deeper issue. What is it about this regime that people are feigning career-ending injuries (Ratliff) and plans to retire (Orton).. that make people want to jump ship so badly? What kind of precedent does it set for future disgruntled employees?

Of course, it could just be coincidence. Ratliff’s issues might only be with the medical staff’s diagnosis and treatment of his specific injuries… or they may not. Orton might just be a dirtbag that thought he was undercompensated to hold a clipboard for all but 61 snaps over two years… or he may not. It’s all speculation, but at some point, you have to acknowledge the circumstances instead of solely looking at the individual. My sociology degree forces me to look at the macro when the micros start to resemble each other.

When a boat is sinking, the rats are the first to know. I’m not here to preach undying loyalty to an employer.. I’d be the last one to suggest that is what needs to be done here. However, these two gentlemen were really well paid employees. It’s not as if they were being stiffed by “the man”. Most observers would call both of these guys overpaid; so it’s not about contract money.

It might very well be much ado about nothing, but it definitely is food for thought. This dish seems to be a bit spicy, the kind that stings on it’s way down, and it’s way out.



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