INDIANAPOLIS – Owner/general manager Jerry Jones isn't panicking despite the uncertainty regarding backup quarterback Kyle Orton's future in the NFL and with the Cowboys.
Jones said the Cowboys spoke with Orton's agent and have made it clear they want the quarterback to return, but Orton hasn't indicated his plan one way or the other. Orton's still under contract, so the only way he can get out of the deal is by getting cut or retiring.
"Let me put it like this, I haven't talked to him and we haven't talked to him directly about anything that has to do with him not playing," Jones said. "I'm assuming he's going to play."
Jones is taking an optimistic approach and said he isn't worried about the possibility of Orton retiring, which is reportedly a consideration.
Orton plays a vital role on the team as the only backup at the position while starting quarterback Tony Romo recovers from back surgery, and the Cowboys should know where they stand at the position with the draft fast approaching.
Jones said he hasn't told Orton's agent he needs an answer by a specific day, but he did acknowledge the importance of having a solid backup quarterback this season. Orton provided relief for the Cowboys by putting up quality numbers when Romo was unable to play in Week 17, throwing for 358 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the season finale against the Eagles. [embedded_ad]
"I could say to him directly our last time we were together and the last experience relative to being with this football team made it very rewarding and worthwhile to be on the team and I hope it was rewarding for (him)," Jones said. "I can say that. That was a good example of money well spent in my mind and shows you where we might be if we need him for an extended period of time. That's almost what I would, in some manner, say to him. The answer is that as I sit here today, we want him."
Orton is due $3.25 million this season and would count $4.3 million against the cap. For now, Jones assumes that Orton will stick around and earn his contract. Jones said he can logically look at the situation and think Orton would want to play.
He added tht it can be common for veteran players in the offseason to contemplate their futures, and repeated that he's not worried at this stage of the process.
"One thing players have the right to do is stop playing football," Jones said. "I would, again, say logic tells me with the experience we had in the last ballgame, with the amount we're paying him, with the wear and tear that's involved, from my perspective, OK, I'd take the money."