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Published on 10/21/2009 at Wed Oct 21 16:43.
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Denver Broncos QB Kyle Orton throws a pass to WR Brandon Stokley in Week 6 Monday Night Football action. (REUTERS/Fred Greaves)

Denver Broncos QB Kyle Orton throws a pass to WR Brandon Stokley in Week 6 Monday Night Football action. (REUTERS/Fred Greaves)

It’s a fact of life — Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler will forever-be linked, examined, scrutinized, and compared to one another for the rest of their NFL careers.  It doesn’t matter that the Broncos received two first-round draft picks along with Orton; Orton and Cutler’s successes and failures will be placed in juxtaposition to one another for as long as they are quarterbacking their current respective teams.

So when the Bears decided to give Cutler a lucrative contract extension Tuesday, Rocky Mountain eyebrows were raised.  Cutler had 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions (three in the red zone), leading the Bears to a 3-2 record with two years left on his contract. Orton has 9 touchdowns to one (fluke) interception (none in the red zone), leading the Broncos to a 6-0 record with no years left on his contract.

In other words, Kyle Orton is out-playing Jay Cutler.


So when do the Broncos untie their purse strings?  When do they decide to pay the man running this 9th-ranked Denver offense?  When do they credit Orton for his work in second-half comeback wins over the Bengals, Cowboys, Patriots, and Chargers? 

This hot start is fantastic, but have they seen enough to commit to him for the long-term, and give him NFL top dollar?

Have you? Let’s break it down.

Concern #1 – Experience – Orton has never played a full, 16-game season as the starter.  Part of this might be the Bears’ (mis-?) management of Orton early in his career, but his experience is sporadic at best. He played 15 games last year, starting strong and finishing lame (more on that in a paragraph), but the fact remains that he’s never finished an entire NFL season, whether due to injury or performance.

Kyle Orton jogs onto the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at INVESCO Field at Mile High.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The face of the franchise? (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Concern #2 – Consistency – Orton had a hot start to 2008 as well, nearly mirroring J.C.’s Pro Bowl-caliber stats through the first seven weeks of the season. But the ankle injury he suffered in Week 10 rendered him significantly less effective. He’s been up-and-down most of his career… can the Broncos sign him to a deal now that pays him with expectations to be just “up?” Are they sure this isn’t just another hot streak?

Concern #3 – CBA Uncertainties – To me, the uncertain future of the relationship between the NFL and the NFL Players Association was a big reason the Bears gave Cutler a two-year extension, and not another $100 million six-year contract other NFL QB’s have been getting. With Orton having no time left on his contract, that’s not as easily an option – Orton can see a payday, and now is the time where he should expect a huge long-term deal.

Concern #4 – Brandon Marshall – Seriously. He will react. “Where’s my money?!” I “ugh” just thinking about it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum — if the Broncos don’t sign Orton soon, he could continue to excel all the way into the playoffs. His value would continue to go up, and the Broncos will find themselves wishing they had signed him when he had a little less leverage.

Seriously. If Orton continues at this level through January — not that anyone is hoping he won’t — the Broncos might just have to shell out Eli Manning money.

I think Orton would be happy with a deal similar to what the Chiefs gave Matt Cassel (hopefully a bit less — they overpaid), and I think it’d be prudent of the Broncos to explore the possibility of getting something like that done in the next few weeks.

In other words, Broncos country… I’m sold. All of those concerns are valid and in the back of my mind, but Orton has shown me enough to believe he can continue to excel in this system. I think Orton can be our quarterback for the next 10+ years, I think he can win us a few Super Bowls, and I think he deserves to get paid like someone with that type of ability.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Broncos wait til after the season, but I dunno… there’s something magical about this season. And the more oh-so-glorious magic we find, the pricier Kyle Orton becomes.

Should the Broncos sign Kyle Orton to a long-term deal?

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  • Fan From Spain

    I still want to see how Kyle will do in a playoff game, to be honest he only looked good in the New England game, other then that hes been getting the job done and played smart. Keep him for now, but we will see down the road.

    Keep it up Ort!

  • Kyle

    142.1 QB Rating in the 4th quarter looks damn good to me, all the time! :)

  • jvill

    Marshall needs to get paid first.

  • TheTroglodyte

    He needs to significantly improve on his ability to throw the deep ball and stop under throwing receivers as often as he is. I like KO and hope he continues to develop. He looks like a wonderful qb for the system currently being ran.

    There is no reason to think Brandstater couldn't run it just as well or even better next year if he is as hard of a worker and as receptive to coaching as seems to be the case.

    I am sure McDaniels has his eye on the situation and will make the right choice moving forward. Fortunately, KO doesn't have the arm to run up a high contract price as some people seem to speculate so even if the Bronco's do wait, he will never get Eli type money. Plus other teams will be skeptical as they too will see him as a product of the system. Especially after Brady's struggles in games this year and Cassel's obvious overpayment.

  • robtink242

    See what we do have to realize he is a system QB, he has weapons around to make Jamarcus Russel look like someone, and he has a seller D that doesn't leave him in Doom situations. So he'll not get Cassel money. I think Orton would be just happy with a team that believes in him. I still think the Broncos should pursue a QB in the draft. If so they'll have to release Simms. If Orton gets paid it should be 35mil and under. that way Marshall could get 25 – 35 mil.

  • robtink242

    Something i forgot its very hard to franchise the guy when he cant throw the deep one. who knows what will happen. Maybe McDaniels is just grooming Bradstater as the future. The guy can make all the throws, has mobility, and has a lot of upside. I really expect him to push Simms out of Denver.

  • robtink242

    No lie. B Marshall has more talent than all three of our QB's.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    I'm with you tink.

    Only I'm still not sold on Orton. I love his heart and his brain but he's not great under pressure (our line truly helps him here), he's not consistently accurate and he doesn't throw the deep ball well… Pay him a bit if we must… enough to keep him happy but nowhere near casell money.

    Unless our year continues as good as it has… we draft a QB next year to groom, hopefully behind a successful Orton for at least another year.


  • Kyle

    I think context has a lot to do with people's hesitance to pay Orton.

    If, instead of having Big Arm Jay, we just finished suffering through Brodie Croyle for two years, I'd guess most people would be lining up at Orton for the next 10 years.

  • robtink242

    I don't know if you like the guy because you guys share the same first name. But a QB with a big arm will always get bigger bucks. because the opposing defense wont know what to expect. Mobility makes it even worse. Jay has the arm strength to make all the throws and the ability to extend plays and avoid sacks. Jay just turn the ball over to much. QB's Drew Brees Donovan McNabb are special because they are mobile(not a scrambler), Have big arms and have the mental aspect of the game down pack.

  • Kyle

    Lol touché. “They're on to me…”

  • Jack

    As a Bears fan, I wish Orton the best. However, I'm glad he's gone for a few reasons.

    1) He was extremely boring to watch. His 5-10 yard passes made me want to go to sleep half the time, and the Bears didn't have a Brandon Marshall who could take a short pass and take it to the house.
    2) Has no accuracy beyond 15 yards.
    3) Did i mention boring?

  • broncoNM

    Wait till the end of the season to begin any contract talk. Orton understands that staying in Denver gives him the best chance to succeed and this system and coaching fits him better than anywhere else he could end up. I think we will sign him to a reasonable contract during the offseason. If he continues to play well than Orton will want to stay and the organization will want him to stay.

  • anthony33

    Very good questions Kyle.

    I am very impressed with a lot of what KO is doing now, but as many have pointed out, what lies ahead for the rest of the season??

    This is why NFL head coaches make the big bucks. My guess is McD already knows how far Orton can go. Has he peaked? Will he peak by the end of the year? Is he going to turn Bradyisk with a full year and another training camp under his belt and put up ungawdly numbers next year? Will he start to falter?

    What the Broncos do over the next couple of months will answer all those questions by their actions.

    However, me thinks McD already knows the answer.

  • Garrett Barnes

    No way in hell we have to give him Eli Manning money lol. I also don't think he will flop half way through the season. It might just be wishful thinking, but his stats weren't THIS good last year.

    Very intriguing article. Good job.

  • horviltiki

    horton is win he the win player. we win with horton guy. I not care if throw far the cutsler throw far get pick off guy. how many time cutsler throw bomb that get pick off last year guy/ horton is the win player we no need of the bomb holio if move offence like this guy make no mistake no turn ball over. the horton is honing it guy. hone. Guy say what happen, say holmes horton done went 98 yard on you guy. win game. that what happen. all day liek this. against the patriot the charger. even.

  • Mrod

    Kyle Orton is the shit I'v always been a Bear fan but ever since Orton stepped up in 05 his rookie year when rex was hurt I have been a huge fan and my buddies have gave me so much shit until now. Orton shut all my buddies with his start this year, you cant say a bad thing about him Mcdaniels who im also a fan of knew what he was doing when he decided he wanted Orton. I hate cutler and hes making me hate the bears so im getting me and Orton Jersey (broncos) I already got the bears one. Go Orton and go Broncos!!!!

  • mikebirty

    when does elvis get his money? he's more deserving than both marshall and orton. he's never moaned and he's been consistent.

  • flbronc

    no matter what the record is i dont think that orton will ever earn more than middle of the road qb money, for the reasons people have pointed out above- arm strenght, mobility, precieved deep ball accuracy, injuries, etc…. i think that it's because of his bad rap in chicago. if he had been on the bench and not seen the field in chicago, then comes here and does what he does- he gets a huge contract. his time in chicago prevents that. it will also hold down his free agent value, which hurts his leverage with bargaining with us.

    i'm sold for orton being our qb, barring a total meltdown. he makes the throws our coach wants him to. he's clutch in the fourth. he doesnt put our d in bad spots. he's not flashy, but thats fine. i like 6-0 more than flash. i think we ought to pay him, but not crazy money. i also dont think he'll ask for crazy money, he doesnt strike me as that type.

  • TJ

    Horvil Tiki is the shizznit!

  • bolisk

    I don't know where this “he can't make the deep throws” stuff started. That's not true. . .I do know. . .it was his rookie season with the bears. Where he was thrown to the wolfs and given a dumbed down play book.

    What bothers me about that statement is that it still hangs over his head. I know that he didn't dazzel in Chicago. I'll be the first to admit that. Having said that, neither did Rex, nor Jay. . .or any other QB since Jim and the '85 bears. What Kyle did and continues to do is put his team in position to win games.

    Here is a small peice of info that Boilermaker fans probably know. One of the main reasons Joe Tiller recuited Kyle Orton to Purdue, was because Kyle had one of the strongest arms that Joe had ever seen. Kyle repeatedly made the long throws while at Purdue and had outstanding numbers with zero future NFL recievers.

    Now having said that, Kyle has been in three systems now where the short spread game is the bread and butter. Purdue does this, the Bears did it, and Devener does this. Some may argue that the short game is the result of the OC's not believing in the QB's ability to thow the deep ball. Maybe. . .but it is also possible that it's the same plays and Kyle is just better about makeing good decisions. I'll use Rex and Jay's interseption numbers to suggest that given the same play, Kyle may have checked down the the open receiver for an 5-10 yard gain. . .where Rex or Jay may have forced a long one and got picked off. Of course this is just my speculation.

    Bottom line, Kyle has a history (when not injured) of doing more with less talent surrounding him. Now, in the Broncos system. . .with a really talented group of guys arround him. . .I have absolute confidence that as he continues to master the playbook. . .and develop a rythm with his receivers, Kyle will continue to improve and in turn prove his worth.

  • Joe

    I've seen Orton in Chicago over his entire NFL career. When the guys around him are playing well, and he doesn't have to be the saviour, he looks great. But if things go bad around him – poor receivers, a bad streak by the RBs, poor blocking, or even a bad game plan by the offensive coordinator, he goes south in a hurry.

    I'm hopeful that is all in the past, but I'm not sold yet. On the other hand, if we do want to keep him, it may take Eli -type money very soon. And if that happens – you're right, BM will be there waiting with BOTH hands out. Right now, our receivers and OL can both argue that they've “made” Kyle Orton. How are we going to be able to pay them all?

  • kerry

    the two biggest offseason priorites are gonna be Dumervil and Chris Kuper. Marshall can always be franchised and Orton can be given a good 2 year deal for decent money. i dont think Ben Hamilton will be back because of his age and injury history. Seth Olsen will likely take over at LG next year.

  • MrEast

    Agreed Kerry.

    Wide receivers are a dime a dozen, especially ones that are divas. Orton is real solid but Brandstater might surprise in two years or so. What Denver needs to be worrying about is signing Elvis. The guy has proven that he can grab double digit sacks in the 4-3 and 3-4, hence he can play for any team in the NFL. If anyone needs to be resigned right now it's Doom.

  • robtink242

    Whoa there Mr East, dime a dozen they guy is arguably the most talented person we have on this team. You know like how the Texans as nothing offensively with out Andre Johnson. yeah royal and the rest of the receivers are solid but he opens up everything for them.

  • MrEast

    I'd rather have Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, or Larry Fitzgerald. Marshall wasn't the game changer in San Diego, it's obvious Eddie Royal was. Marshall may be the most athletically talented on the offense, but it's more important to resign Doom on the defense. Remember who kicked the ball to negate a pass interference call for a first down.

  • robtink242

    i agree with you 100% with Doom. there no argument on that part. But thats just one play. The fact that Marshall was on the field is how Orton has 5 out his 9 TD. The tip that Stokely returned was intended to him and he has 4. His presence on the field may also be the result for the next 4 TD's. I don't think you guys realize how special of a player he is. Yes Royal saved us with his RETURNS. Royal is not superior to Marshall as a receiver certainly as a RETURNER.

  • WhidbeyBronco

    lol, so u put Brandon 4th best in the league? OK PAY HIM! ….& doom.

  • roshon2411

    The WR position is a diva position anyhow. Especially with Royal having a done year so far, we need Marshall. We also need to hang on to Dumervil as well. He has half the teams sacks so far. We can't let him go like we did Heyward, Pryce, and Berry. As for Orton, if the price is right sure, but I wouldn't think it would be the end of the world if he doesn't come back. Question is if we do sign him, do we pass on potential top QB's in the draft next year? It looks to be a good class with the QB spot so i'm sure one of them will be available where ever Denver picks.

  • Korton18

    My husband and I have been the biggest Kyle Orton fans since he was at Purdue. We have taken so much crap too…now all of those people have shut up :) It's been a great ride this year. We have 4 Orton jerseys, 1 Purdue, 2 bears and the broncos one..go Kyle!!

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