How badly does QB Kyle Orton want out of Dallas?
Apparently, badly enough that he’s willing to take a hit to the wallet that’s more than what most of us make in a year – or two. Thanks to a clause in his contract, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys can levy a hefty fine should Orton, like some other players, not complete a set percentage of offseason workouts. In this case, he’s looking at a salary “de-escalation” of about $75,000 for not showing up to Dallas’ offseason program. That’s a lot of cash and seems to indicate that Orton wants out of Big D in a big way.
Rumors and speculation suggest that Orton’s absence is because he’s attempting to force his way out of Dallas by forcing the Cowboys to release him. Orton is just 31 years old, has been effective as a starter at times and no doubt believes he still has a lot of football left in him and should be a starting QB in the NFL right now.
And maybe he does have some good football in him, and could be a starter in the league. The problem for Orton is that Jerry Jones remains married to the idea that Tony Romo – despite a track record of mediocrity, playoff failures, three consecutive 8-8 seasons and a four season playoff drought – is the one who will lead Dallas to the promised land.
Orton seems to have finally figured out that as long as Romo is able to walk and talk, he’s going to be under center for Dallas, which means he will continue to languish on the bench. After two seasons in which he’s thrown a combined 61 passes, about all that can be said is, it certainly took him long enough to figure it out.
Perhaps when Orton signed that three-year deal with Dallas back in 2012, he did so with the idea that he would be able to supplant Romo the way he’d been supplanted by Tim Tebow while with the Denver Broncos. Which was a foolish notion to begin with. But after an offseason in which Dallas has signed veteran QBs Brandon Weeden, Caleb Hanie and UFDA Dustin Vaughan – and Romo is still firmly entrenched as the starter – Orton no doubt finally sees the writing on the wall, and realizes that if he wants a shot at starting, it will have to be somewhere other than Dallas.
His problem though, is that he is still under contract to the Cowboys for another season. And Dallas, at least to this point, doesn’t seem interested in playing ball. Both Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have said they expect to see Orton at the team’s mandatory minicamp in June.
Knowing they have a 34-year-old quarterback coming off of another back surgery, and a ragtag group of backups without any track record of sustained success, the Cowboys don’t have a lot of incentive to part ways with Orton — and he subsequently doesn’t have a lot of leverage. If he fails to show up for the start of minicamp, he’s facing even more fines, and will still be under contract to Dallas for the whole season.
Nobody knows how this is all going to shake out, but so far, Orton hasn’t given any indication that he plans to attend any of the team’s activities and workouts. For their part, the Cowboys continue saying they hope to have him back in the fold and ready to play soon.
It’s an interesting standoff, and it will be even more interesting to see who blinks first.