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To Trade Or Not To Trade Kyle Orton... That Is The Question

The flavor of the month - or the past six months - for the Denver Broncos and us fans is the trade of Kyle Orton - or the desire to trade him.  I question this a bit, not because I think he should start for the Broncos, because I don't.  No, I wonder if trading Orton, and being a high-ankle sprain away from the Brady Quinn era - is what Tim Tebow fans should be hoping for.

First, let's talk about the latest Orton rumor.  This time, it is a television report out of Phoenix that says the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals have had 'preliminary discussions' about an Orton trade.  I'm not sure what 'preliminary' means, but I think Orton would likely be the 4th option for the Cardinals at this point.  Maybe that's what it means - "Hey, ummm, if we can't get any of the guys we really want, we may call you about Kyle Orton."

To me, if I'm Arizona, I'm targeting Kevin Kolb in a trade.  They'll have to give up a lot, of course, but Kolb would likely be the starting quarterback in Arizona for the next decade.  Well worth the price.

If that doesn't work out, I'll sign either Donovan McNabb or Marc Bulger as a free agent.  Think about it, is Kyle Orton any different than McNabb or Bulger - other than age?  Are the Cardinals going to acquire Orton and sign him to an extension?  They would likely do what the Broncos have wanted to do - try and find his replacement.  Why give up assets for a one-year fix when they can sign Bulger or McNabb for 2 years?

That's where my line of thinking may separate from many others.  You see, like many you, I think Tim Tebow should be the starting quarterback of the Broncos in 2011.  I think that, in part, because I know what the Broncos have in Kyle Orton.  So do other teams.  The line of thought I do not subscribe to is this myth that, while Orton has struggled with the Broncos, he can go somewhere else and be a game-breaker.  The NFL is a quarterback league.  You either have one, or you are trying desperately to find one.

Think about the Super Bowl and the quarterbacks that have played in the big game the last 10 years:

2011 - Aaron Rodgers(W) and Ben Roethlisberger

2010 - Drew Brees(W) and Peyton Manning

2009 - Ben Roethlisberger(W) and Kurt Warner

2008 - Eli Manning(W) and Tom Brady

2007 - Peyton Manning(W) and Rex Grossman

2006 - Ben Roethlisberger(W) and Matt Hasselbeck

2005 - Tom Brady(W) and Donovan McNabb

2004 - Tom Brady(W) and Jake Delhomme

2003 - Brad Johnson(W) and Rich Gannon

2002 - Tom Brady(W) and Kurt Warner

That's 20 quarterbacks total, with half of those appearances by Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner.  All four will likely be in the Hall of Fame.  Aaron Rodgers is on his way to being the best quarterback in the game - and Brees isn't far behind.  Of the winning quarterbacks the past 10 years, only Brad Johnson and Eli Manning may raise eye brows.  You can have the 20% chance with a decent quarterback, I'll take the 80% with a stud.

There are exceptions to every rule, but that's what makes them the rule.  Trent Dilfer in 2000 or Jeff Hostetler in 1991 are examples of that. 

So back to Kyle Orton.  Can he find lightning in a bottle, one time, one a team with a historically great defense, and get to a Super Bowl?  There's a chance - about a 20% chance - if not worse.  So why would a team like the Cardinals, that don't fit any of those parameters, trade for him?

What about the Broncos?  Why would they entertain trading Orton?  Would it send a solid message?

We don't know about Tim Tebow.  Personally, that means little to me.  I want to see the kid start, and want to see how he handles the adversity of losing - really for the first time in his life - and the criticism that comes with it.  What I don't want to see if Tebow getting hurt - which is a HUGE risk with the way Tebow plays - and Brady Quinn coming into the game.  For Tebow fans, that is probably the WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO.

Why, you ask?  Simple - I can say with a high degree of probability that a Brady Quinn-led football team is one that will likely lose a lot of football games.  That means a high draft pick and a higher probability that the Broncos draft a quarterback - be it Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley. 

There is little doubting John Elway's admiration for Luck.  I can say with some certainty that the Broncos would take Luck in a heartbeat if they had the chance to do so.  A team led by Brady Quinn would give the Broncos that chance.  While Barkley is more of an unknown right now in terms of Pro value, there will be another Top-10 quarterback in the 2012 Draft, and right now Barkley fits the bill.

The last thing Tebow supporters should want is for the Broncos braintrust to be given any reason to replace Tebow.  An injury would do just that.  Keep Kyle Orton, however, and the Broncos chances in winning a few games raises, lowering the chances they can acquire a Top-5 quarterback.

I know, crazy thinking.  It just seems to me, that the only way Tim Tebow will be given a shot to win - and keep - the starting quarterback job in Denver is this year.  If he performs well, and shows that he can be the future at quarterback for the Broncos, all is well.  If he gets hurt - and the Broncos lose - or he doesn't perform well - and the Broncos lose - the Broncos will replace him.

Let's be honest, in the throws of a Lockout there is little to talk about.  Random rumors coming out of Arizona have become hot talking points.  I just don't see a Kyle Orton trade as being something good for Tim Tebow - on or off the field - and should the Broncos do it, you wonder how long Tim Tebow's stay will be as well.