Broncos cut Orton; will a playoff contender pick him up?

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

The Denver Broncos cut quarterback Kyle Orton on Tuesday, a move which solidifies Tim Tebow's status as the team's starter and opens up the possibility of an Orton return to Chicago, where he could possibly fill-in for an injured Jay Cutler.

ESPN's Adam Schefter was first to report the news. The Denver Post later reported that Orton and his agent, David Dunn, began pushing the Broncos for the release once Cutler went down with a thumb injury. The Broncos complied, giving Orton a sort of mercy release.

"This was the right decision for our football team," Broncos coach John Fox said in a statement. "We feel good about our quarterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents."

Orton played the first five games of the season for Denver before he was replaced by Tebow at halftime in Week 5. The seventh-year veteran was 1-3 on the year, throwing for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was traded to the Broncos in 2009 as part of the Jay Cutler mega-trade with Chicago and is owed $2.5 million for the remainder of this season. Any team that puts a waiver claim on Orton will owe him that salary.

Which team will it be? Chicago seems like a natural fit; Orton played his first four seasons in the Windy City and helped lead the team to a playoff berth in his rookie season. Other playoff contenders with injured starters, like the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, could also be in play. Both those teams are ahead of Chicago on the waiver priority list. (First team to claim him gets him.) Or perhaps Mike Shanahan will try to make Orton his next ex-quarterback in Washington.

Getting rid of Orton suggests Denver is content to ride out the season with Tim Tebow. Or if he falters like his coach and general manager seem to hope, the Broncos will try out Brady Quinn as the starter.

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