Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton gave way to 2010 first-round pick Tim Tebow late last season, but is still in the mix to start in 2011, Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway said.
“If we had to go right now (Orton would start), but we’ve got to make a decision about where we’re going to go,” Elway said on Wednesday. “In my mind, we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do offensively at that position, and that’s why I’m not guaranteeing anybody’s going to start.”
According to Elway, Orton “is definitely part of the equation”.
In 13 games, Orton completed 58.8% of his 498 pass attempts for 3,653 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions for an 87.5 passer rating. Eliminated from the post-season, Tebow started the final three games, completing 40-of-81 pass attempts for 651 yards with 4 touchdowns and three interceptions.
With a 3-yard touchdown on his only pass attempt prior to mid-December, Tebow had a 82.1 passer rating in his rookie season. A strong and opportunistic runner, Tebow led the Broncos with 199 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in the final three games.
With a salary cap expected to return as part of the next collective bargaining agreement, finances could play a role in the Broncos’ quarterback decision.
Orton is due a $1.5 million roster bonus this off-season, and has a $6.879 million base salary, nearly $3 million of which is guaranteed, for a cap number of $8.379 million.
Tebow is on the books for $1.618 million in base salary (fully guaranteed) in 2011, but the Broncos may exercise a nearly $6.3 million salary advance early in the 2011 league year that would reduce Tebow’s base salary to the league minimum. By leading the Broncos in rushing touchdowns in 2010, Tebow will also earn a $472,500 roster bonus, which combined with proration from the salary advance and minimum base salary, will result in a $2.446 cap number, but $7.155 million from a cash perspective.
If the Broncos keep both, and Brady Quinn’s $700,000 base salary, they’ll spend over $16 million on quarterbacks in 2011, with none being the team’s long-term solution at the position.