Posted Wed Oct 21st by Monty
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.
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.