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A Penny for Your Thoughts: Trading Kyle Orton

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The biggest debate of the Denver Broncos off-season, to this point, has been about the quarterback position. It all started when we shipped out Chris Simms and traded a few picks and Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn. Then, the Broncos went a step further and drafted Tim Tebow.

Now, all of a sudden, there is a full blown war on Kyle Orton. In fact, many are calling for Orton's head, right now, even though Josh McDaniels has said that he wants to have a competition at every position in training camp, including the quarterback position. Why shouldn't Kyle be able to compete for the starting role? He played well, last season, and McDaniels thinks that players will improve if they have competition around them.=

I don't know any better way than to create competition at a spot to create that ascension in terms of every player's level of play. -Josh McDaniels

Despite Josh McDaniels' simple and deliberate explanation of his training camp strategy, Broncos Country and NFL pundits, alike, seem to have their own opinions about what the future holds for Kyle Orton. While the opinions are often varied, sometimes a single idea takes off, becomes either widely accepted or debated and seems to create a story all it's own. Let's start off with an example and explore how speculation can coincide with facts and reason. Shall we?

For the development of Brady Quinn, Tim Tebow and Tom Brandstater, for fairness to Kyle Orton, for the benefit of the other Broncos, for the future of the franchise, for the fans in Bronco Country, for goodness' sake, Orton must be traded.

Orton is not a short-term fix or a long-range fit for the Broncos. A deal should be sought, in my opinion, before the team's voluntary minicamp May 17-19 — so the Broncos and Orton can move on now.

-Woody Paige

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Woody Paige, specifically, said, "in my opinion" and his comment still caused hundreds of comments on MHR and probably elsewhere, as well. Instead of thinking about the quote, itself, I found myself wondering if Woody even gave his comment a second thought. Did he choose to ignore McDaniels' comments about wanting competition at every position or did he just forget? Why even discuss an opinion that flies in the face of the coach's intentions?

There are a few reasons that Woody, or any other writer for that matter, would have this opinion, regarding Kyle Orton. First of all, it's his job to have an opinion. Some writers are paid to write stories and, oftentimes, the overall audience can be increased if you rock the boat, a bit. I'm not going to sit here and say that greed is the only motivating factor to write a mailbag feature, because we have a Dude on the MHR staff that does it for free. Obviously, there has to be another reason.

Providing other people with knowledge from a different point of view should be the primary reason for giving your opinion. Some people hold to the belief that opinions are like vacuums. Most everybody has one and they all suck. Some of you may have heard a different version of that adage, but this was the cleanest version that I could come up with. That was a double joke, if you paid close attention.

Anyways, opinions are only as valuable as the person providing it. A solid opinion from a great source, presented in a clear and helpful way, is often invaluable in providing knowledge to anyone who comes across it. In order for a story or report to take on a life of it's own and become of real value, useful opinions that teach are absolutely necessary to put the rest of the story into context.

Speculating and debating is good wholesome fun that often makes for some quality conversation, but we need to be mindful and make sure that we don't rely on speculation and opinion, alone. A delicate balance of fact and opinion must be maintained or we will speculate our way into nonsense.

Facts and Speculation Can Coexist

With that said, are the opinions or speculations, surrounding Kyle Orton, relevant to the actual course of action that the Broncos may take in the coming weeks or months? Many people, not only Woody Paige, are speculating about whether or not Kyle Orton will be traded or released. That's all fine and dandy, but whether or not there is any legitimacy behind those opinions, remains to be seen.

For a moment, let's go over some facts. Kyle Orton, last year, threw 3802 yards for 21 TDs and 12 INTs. Get ready for an opinion of mine… That's not too shabby, for a quarterback in his first year of the Josh McDaniels system, battling a finger injury and ankle injury at various times, during the year...

We can also add that the Broncos got rid of Chris Simms while picking up Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow. Those are facts. However, off-season acquisitions, in and of themselves, don't tell us very much about where players will end up on the depth chart. If a team were to pick up a player because they didn't have a quality starter at that position, then you could reasonably assume that whoever is picked up will be first on the depth chart. The Broncos aren't that team. We had a pretty good starter in 2009, according to stats, and our coach has spoken highly of Orton during the off-season, as well.

(from Potent Quotables, April 24th 2010)

Kyle Orton remains the Bronco's starting quarterback

"Still, no question. There is somebody that is going to start at every position. Certainly (Orton) earned the respect of his teammates and coaches last year from what he did and it's a competitive group now - that's what it is. We think that competition is going to make everyone better. We talked about the need for that position to be a leader on our team - one of our better players, if not our best player...

Quotes from off-season interviews can be taken as facts. Although, when two people look at one interview, they can infer two different things, so interview quotes are not always a universal fact for every person. Words like "coach-speak" and "smokescreen" creep into the picture, when we talk about interviews, so it can be quite difficult to turn a quote into a concrete fact, universally accepted by all readers.

So, now what? We've got some basic stats, off-season moves and some interview quotes, none of which can constitute a concrete, universally held opinion, by themselves. With all of this said, how did someone arrive at the opinion "Orton will be traded before training camp"? Honestly, I have no idea.

...for fairness to Kyle Orton, for the benefit of the other Broncos...

-Woody Paige

If we knew for a fact that Orton won't start on opening day and we decided to trade Orton right away, it would benefit Orton because he would get a chance to digest the new offense of whatever team lands him. That's a valid idea and it makes a bunch of sense. However, that doesn't benefit the Broncos because, right now, we don't know that Orton won't start on opening day and, until we do, Orton will compete for the starting job, as promised by Josh McDaniels.

For all we know, Orton could dominate the QB competition in training camp and if we trade him now, it could be a major mistake, possibly costing Denver the playoffs, next season. Wouldn't it be a bummer to trade him in May, deciding not giving him a fair chance to compete for the starting job, and watch him have an outstanding year in 2010 and take a different team to the playoffs?

The best approach would be to let the quarterback competition play out and evaluate the situation from there. Right? Well, sure, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun. Let's speculate. There are three other quarterbacks on the roster that can be traded or released. It is pretty safe to say that Tim Tebow is fairly safe. McDaniels loves what he brings to the table, in terms of talent and work ethic, and it's very rare to watch a first round QB get cut in his first training camp.

However, Brandstater could be cut in training camp, if his development isn't as good as McDaniels thought it would be, at this point. Granted, Brandstater is a very small investment and it wouldn't kill us on the payroll if we kept him around. However, if it came down to roster math and Brandstater wasn't cutting the mustard, he could be a goner.

Then, there's Brady Quinn. He has struggled in the NFL, but it might not be entirely his fault. Cleveland has been a poor place for quarterbacks over the last few years. Although, they had a promising young group to catch the football, they decided to trade Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, leaving only a converted kick returner (Josh Cribbs) to catch passes for them. Just ask Jay Cutler if he knows the difference between throwing to real receivers and throwing to converted kick returners.

Anyways, Brady Quinn is as much a mystery as Tim Tebow, in my opinion, since he was a Cleveland quarterback, in his past life. Maybe, after he is given ample time to work out and show his stuff, he isn't as good as McDaniels thought? Perhaps Brady Quinn could be leaving Denver, instead of Kyle Orton. I'm not saying that will be the case, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility and has as much credibility as the Orton speculation does.

3 is the Magic Number, or is it?

You could make a case for any one of our quarterbacks (minus Tebow, in all likelihood) to be leaving Denver, but do any of them really have to go? Roster math tells us that we won't keep 4 quarterbacks. Somebody will get cut or traded before we head to Jacksonville for week 1. Right?

Roster math is not a very straight forward process. One of the quarterbacks will probably be cut or traded, but it isn't required by the NFL Roster Rules. Having 3 quarterbacks on the roster is pretty common in the NFL, but if Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders decide to keep 4 on the roster, that option is still available. Brandstater would probably have to go back to the practice squad and the Broncos would lack a bit of depth at another position, but it's a possibility.

If that were to happen, it only adds more questions to be pondered. Could we put Tebow on the roster as a quarterback but use him as a goal line bruiser to score some touchdowns? What if the Broncos kept 4 quarterbacks and cut some wide receivers, instead? What if we traded Orton for a linebacker? Could we trade Jacksonville, later, if we change our mind about Quinn?

The speculation rolls on. It can be an interesting mental exercise that provides us something to talk about, in an otherwise mundane portion of the calendar. While there is no way for us to know the answers to all of the off-season questions, giving an educated guess will not be discouraged, so long as you have a legitimate amount of facts or reasoning.

That's not to say that everyone will always agree with your opinion, either, and I'm sure that there are many of you that don't agree with mine. No big deal. Keep in mind that if your opinion encounters opposition, it isn't necessarily a personal attack. Don't feel bad, just think of a better opinion or back up your thoughts with some concrete stats, quotes or threats reasons.