With recent contracts for QBs, what is Orton worth to Broncos?

  • By Pat Kirwan
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With recent quarterback contracts pushing toward $1 million a game for the likes of Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, what is Kyle Orton worth?

I recently spoke to two former front office executives about placing a value on Orton, especially in light of what Jay Cutler just received from the Bears, a two-year extension that runs through 2013 and includes about $20 million guaranteed with roughly $30 million in new money.

Orton is a guy who wins games wherever he plays. After coming over from Chicago in the Cutler deal, Orton has the Broncos at 6-0 and is young enough (soon to be 27) to play the length of a new six-year deal.

One exec looked at Orton's situation this way:

"When (Tony) Romo got a six-year deal back in 2007 for $67 million and $30 (million) of it guaranteed, the world changed and I could make a strong case he hadn't done near as much as Orton has accomplished looking at his contract situation."

Aaron Rodgers got a six-year deal worth $65 million with $20 million guaranteed before he established himself. Then there was Matt Cassel, who got $63 million over six years with $28 million guaranteed off one year of production.

The consensus on Orton's worth is just above the Cassel deal but significantly below what Rivers received from the Chargers ($92 million over six years with $38 million guaranteed). When the time comes, Orton is going to be looking at a six-year deal worth close to $70 million with upwards of $30 million guaranteed.

As one GM said, "If they wait much longer, it will be even more."

Bengals have new stripes

The Bengals are tied for first place in the AFC North at 5-2 after an impressive win over the Bears in Week 6. In talking with Andrew Whitworth, the outstanding left tackle for Cincinnati, I suggested that the outside perception of the Bengals is that they can't handle success.

"We are a close group. We want to be good," Whitworth said. "We don't make excuses and we are not the same old Bengals."

Whitworth cited little things, like the offensive line staying late on Wednesday nights to watch tape together and his wife bringing dinner for all the linemen. He was quick to point out that there are a lot of guys with something to prove, including him, because people doubted he could play left tackle.

"You all know about Ced Benson but we have guys like center Kyle Cook, who's nasty, smart and owns one sports jacket and lives to play football," Whitworth said. "These are not the same old Bengals."

Defense being held accountable in New Orleans

In speaking with Saints linebacker Scott Shanle this week, he mentioned the influence of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the "new" Saints.

"If you can't be at practice, I can't play you," Shanle said of Williams' approach.

The result of that black-and-white statement is that guys don't miss practice and there is a sense of urgency to prepare.

Shanle said you have to be a smart player for Williams to even let you on the field. He discussed the adjustments Williams will make in games and how New Orleans used a double corner blitz to contain the Wildcat against Miami. Although the Saints played a lot of man free coverages against the Dolphins, Shanle said this week could be a whole different package for the Falcons on Monday night.

Impact of Ware's contract

DeMarcus Ware is a terrific player and just got paid! He was rewarded with a six-year deal worth $78 million and $40 million guaranteed.

Ware has 57.5 sacks and his contract understandably compares with Dwight Freeney's. It sparks the question, what is Elvis Dumervil worth? Dumervil is starting to resemble James Harrison of the Steelers and already has 10 sacks this season for the Broncos. He has 36 sacks in the same period of time Mario Williams has 33.5. Trent Cole signed a five-year extension with the Eagles for $26.5 million in 2006 and any club would love to get Dumervil for similar numbers.

However, as one former general manager said, "The price just went up for Dumervil and the Ware deal pushed the Bronco linebacker closer to Harrison."

Keep in mind, if 2010 is an uncapped year, Dumervil would be a restricted free agent, but that doesn't change his true value.

Pass first

One of the biggest games of Week 8 will take place when Brett Favre and Co. head to Lambeau Field. Minnesota's pass rush is led by Jared Allen and the defense leads the league with 24 sacks. Green Bay's offense has given up the second most sacks (25).

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Helping Aaron Rodgers by passing on first down when the defense has to play the run as well as the pass could be a struggle for the Packers. Rodgers has been sacked 12 times on first down or a 1:7 ratio on first down passing plays. For a point of reference on some other quarterbacks passing on first down, Tom Brady has been sacked once in 115 first-down pass plays and Carson Palmer once every 46 first-down pass plays.

The Packers are perfectly balanced in their play calls on first down (50 percent run and 50 percent pass). It will be very interesting to see what they do in this matchup.

Deep thoughts

While Matt Ryan is a terrific quarterback who makes all the throws and is going to win a lot of games, he has recently been called a dink-and-dunk passer.

I reject the label, but asked some defensive secondary coaches that have faced him for their opinions.

One coach said, "He should throw more deep passes than he actually does and when you look at his six touchdown passes that average close to 30 yards in the air, there's nothing dink-and-dunk about his arm."

Another secondary coach said, "Ben Roethlisberger has thrown twice as many deep balls but has one less TD pass."

It is amazing how perceptions get mixed in with reality. I'm glad I looked at the story floating around about Ryan's arm. When I was at Falcons camp this summer, I witnessed all the deep passes you ever wanted to see.

Carolina on my mind

In speaking with John Fox about the quarterback situation in Carolina, it sounded like Jake Delhomme will start after Fox agreed that Delhomme still gives them the best chance to win. I did get the feeling that the backups may get some more reps in practice this week, which could mean a change during the game is possible. Stay tuned.


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