IRVING, Texas – The standoff between Kyle Orton and the Cowboys appears to be over. And from the looks of things, Orton is getting what he wanted all along.
The Cowboys are expected to officially cut the backup quarterback in a move that will likely be made official on Wednesday.
Orton did not participate in any of the Cowboys' offseason practices or workouts, missing all of the OTAs and minicamp sessions. Although Orton has not made public comments this offseason, it has been believed he has hinted at retirement.
However, if he retired under contract, he could be required to pay back $3 million to the Cowboys from his signing bonus. Now that it appears Orton will be waived, he instead adds to the club's dead money total. However, by cutting him the Cowboys won't pay his $3.25 million base salary. The cap savings of about $1 million this year will be helpful considering they are looking to sign both Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant to long-term contracts this season.
Seemingly as important, this move means Brandon Weeden is the top candidate to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Tony Romo. A first-round pick of the Browns in 2012, Weeden took nearly all of the first-team snaps this summer with Orton sitting out and Romo still cautiously rehabbing a herniated disk injury in his back that required surgery last December.
The procedure forced Romo to miss the Week 17 showdown against the Eagles, giving Orton his first and only start for the Cowboys. While Orton played well at times in the game – passing for 358 yards and two touchdowns – his last two passes proved costly. First, he poorly underthrew Dez Bryant in the end zone for what would've been a game-tying two-point conversion. And after the Cowboys regained possession in the final minutes, his next pass to Miles Austin was intercepted, ending the Cowboys' chances of an NFC East title and subsequent playoff spot.
In two seasons with the Cowboys, Orton played in just four games, but mostly in mop-up duty. He did have a 95.5 quarterback rating with the Cowboys, a huge upgrade from his 79.9 rating over his career. The loss against the Eagles gives Orton a career record of 35-35 in his 70 starts.
With Orton now out of the picture, the Cowboys will enter training camp next week with Romo, Weeden and veteran backup Caleb Hanie and rookie Dustin Vaughan as the four quarterbacks on the roster.