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Counterpoint: If Orton Returns, Weeden Deserves Backup Reps


All eyes will be on Kyle Orton next week when the Cowboys conduct their three-day minicamp at Valley Ranch. It'll be the first and only mandatory event of the offseason.

That's when we're going to find out just how serious Kyle Orton is to this offseason absence we've seen so far. If he misses this, knowing he will be fined rather heavily for it, then we'll get a better idea as to where he's coming from. Maybe he really doesn't want to play at all and maybe, just maybe, he's thinking about retiring, which would mean he has to pay back about $3 million to the Cowboys.

As I've said several times before, when we're talking about millions of dollars changing hands, it's usually a one-way street from teams to players. You rarely hear about the players giving millions back to the team. So I'll believe the retirement stuff when it happens.

But even if Orton comes back this week, he's not my No. 2 quarterback. Not right away, at least.

Not being here this summer forfeits that, in my opinion. The rest of his teammates are making the sacrifices in the weight room, OTA practices and everything else. They're running out like kids again Thursday at the Cowboys U youth camp, which quite honestly is the most enjoyable part of the offseason.

So for Orton not to be here, I certainly don't welcome him back by giving him the backup job yet again.

Obviously, you have to play the best player at all positions. If Orton is clearly better than Brandon Weeden, and he shows the willingness to be the backup to Tony Romo, then that's one thing. You should play Orton and go with the veteran.

But to me, if it's close, I'll go with Weeden.

Yeah, I understand the difference in experience. One guy hasn't proven to be a consistent winner in the NFL. We're about to find out how hard it is to play quarterback in Cleveland when Mr. Manziel gets a turn. I'm sure ESPN and NFL Network will shove that down our face whenever possible.

Weeden wasn't that great in Cleveland. Orton has won a few games in his career. He's been blah at times, too.

I know Orton is better right now and more accomplished, but talent-wise? I'm not sure Weeden isn't better. I think Weeden has a better arm. He's obviously taken less hits. And right now, he certainly wants to be here.

And this isn't just a standard policy that I would go by. I don't believe all players should be treated equally. They don't play the same. They don't get paid the same. They don't act the same. So I'm not treating them the same. [embedded_ad]

If Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith were holding out this summer for a new deal, but then suddenly came in for the mandatory camp, then I'd put them right in the starting lineup where they belong.

Let's not forget Orton's last two passes for the Cowboys. As solidly as he played to get the Cowboys in position to beat the Eagles in Week 17, he did have a hand in the loss. His two-point conversion pass to Dez Bryant dug up way too many black rubber pellets and was about nine feet lower than it should've been. His next pass was two yards behind Miles Austin and intercepted by Brandon Boykin to close the door on the game and season.

I'm certainly not saying Orton should get replaced for that. But if you're going to follow that up with a summer-long absence, especially when the starting quarterback is recovering from a back injury and especially when there's new terminology to learn with Scott Linehan coming in … then no, he needs to come in and take the No. 2 job back from Weeden.

I'd only give Orton the backup spot if he is head and shoulders better than Weeden, and only if that. If it's close, or dead even after training camp, I'm rolling with Weeden.

Tie goes to the worker.

Then again, who knows if that's what Orton has really wanted to happen all along?

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