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Kyle Orton Deserves Better Than What Denver Broncos (Or Anyone Else) Gave Him

Kyle Orton has already been dangled in front of the NFL and no one bit. Now it will be interesting to see if anyone likes the bait now.

Kyle Orton has already been dangled in front of the NFL and no one bit. Now it will be interesting to see if anyone likes the bait now.

Remember a few weeks ago at the trade deadline, rumors circulated that Orton could have been had for a mere 7th round conditional draft choice. For a guy who could end up as a team's starting quarterback, that's a small price to pay. Shortly thereafter, the Oakland Raiders traded two possible first round picks to get Carson Palmer from the Raiders. In short, you can't have a more glaring contrast in views between two quarterbacks.

But let's take a closer look at the numbers:

In his career, Kyle Orton has been a league-average quarterback. His career won-loss record is 33-33 with a completion percentage of 58.1 for 13,753 passing yards. Better yet, after his first two years in the league, that number rises to 60 percent after he shook his rookie nerves. He also has 79 touchdowns against 55 interceptions, and again those numbers look even better taking out his first two rookie seasons where it becomes 67 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. His quarterback rating in that time is 84.0. Oh yeah, he just turned 30.

Now those aren't elite-level numbers for sure, and I'd never argue that Orton was going to make the Pro Bowl every year. But let's be very honest for a minute: how many teams have those types of quarterbacks anyway. There's a reason why so many teams made maneuvers to get a quarterback just in April's draft to solve their issues. Arizona traded for Kevin Kolb and threw $60 million at him. Other teams struck early in the draft to get their man: Bengals (Andy Dalton), Vikings (Christian Ponder), Panthers (Cam Newton), Jags (Blaine Gabbert), Titans (Jake Locker), 49ers (Collin Kaepernick).

And the list of quarterback needy teams goes even further than that. So why is no one ponying up for Orton? The question is baffling, especially when you consider the price paid for Carson Palmer. Let's look at those numbers, shall we?

In the same four window as we looked at Orton, Palmer has some nice, well, Orton-esque numbers. In that time, Palmer went 16-23 as a starter. His  completion rate was 60.7 percent with 56 touchdowns and 44 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 81.3. In other words, Carson Palmer has not been as good of a quarterback as Kyle Orton over the last four seasons. If you want to pan the camera back to career rates (Palmer's played two more seasons than Orton), then Palmer's percentage gets better at 62 percent. Of course, that means you're believing 2004 Palmer is going to be indicative of 2011 Palmer.

Palmer might be the better starting option. You could argue arm strength, leadership, on-field vision and a dozen other ideas in which Palmer might be the clear favorite over Orton. But just this last Sunday alone, the quarterbacks who took the field include Rex Grossman, Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Palko, John Skelton and Richard Bartel. Next week, add Caleb Hanie and Matt Leinart to that list. If Orton is an average NFL starter and available for next to nothing, then why are teams consistently throwing out subpar quarterbacks?

Some teams are in "find out what we have on hand" mode, and that's fine. A team has to do due diligence to sort out their roster, and that's nothing new in the NFL. But what else isn't new is a team trotting out horrible NFL starters when everyone knows the player simply cannot cut it at the pro level. And yet options like Orton sit there wondering why they're not contributing somewhere.