Kyle Orton is expected back by the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff for the 2014 season after hinting at retirement this off-season. While Orton himself has not confirmed this Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson is “hopeful” of Orton’s return in June when mandatory minicamp begins.
If Orton does not return the Dallas will likely make Brandon Weeden their backup. Weeden was signed as a free agent from the Browns in March. The former Oklahoma State quarterback was the No. 1 draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 2012.
Orton still has not shown up for team’s voluntary off-season workouts nor has he been in contact with the team. These are voluntary workouts so the former Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos quarterback does not have to participate per the collective bargaining agreement. However, it is well-known that NFL teams frown upon players not participating in the voluntary workouts.
Orton is said to be mulling retirement but if he were to call it quits he would have to return $3 million of a $5 million signing bonus. The bonus is guaranteed only if he plays. That fact alone makes his return more likely but not until the mandatory minicamp begins June 1.
The possibility also exists that Orton will show up for the minicamp and be cut by Dallas, which would save $3.25 million off the salary cap by doing so. They would still be on the hook for the money but would receive salary cap relief. That would also mean handing over the backup job to Weeden who has at least spent time learning from new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, while Orton has stayed away. As annoying as this must be to head coach Jason Garret and owner Jerry Jones likely it would still be a bold step to trust Weeden, especially for a team with 34-year old Tony Romo coming off of back surgery.
For the moment Jones is stuck. The Cowboys say they expect Orton back but it hardly something they can count on. All the while the one thing that never changes in Dallas? Drama.
Rookie Mini Camp – The big news for the Cowboys coming out of rookie camp was their first two picks were impressive. No. 1 draft choice Zach Martin from Notre Dame affirmed to everyone why he was taken ahead of a defensive player in the first round but the bigger news though was the initial reaction to the second-round choice DeMarcus Ware of Boise State.
The Cowboys clearly thought a lot of Ware as they traded their third-round pick to Washington to move up 13 spots and draft the Boise State defensive end. He definitely made an impression on defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
“He’s got a great feel for a reaction to movement,” Marinelli said of the former Boise State standout, who compiled 20 sacks in his final two seasons as a Bronco. “That’s what I look for, that’s something you can’t test, you got to see it.”
Dallas left the rookie mincamp without any answers but a renewed hope in Lawrence while they maintain their stance on the backup quarterback situation. The Cowboys expect Kyle Orton to return and if not they move ahead with Weeden. The possible contribution from Lawrence is the more important news for the moment but if something were to happen to the increasingly fragile Romo everything changes.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Dallas Cowboys