Broncos waive Orton, clearing way for Tebow for rest of season

The other shoe finally dropped for Kyle Orton.

The Denver Broncos waived the veteran quarterback Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the situation said before the team later confirmed the move.

Orton lost his starting job to Tim Tebow after going 1-4 in the Broncos' first five games of the season. Orton had won the job during training camp over Tebow and Brady Quinn, who now becomes the team's No. 2 quarterback. Adam Weber could be promoted from the practice squad to be Denver's No. 3 quarterback.

"We just thought it was the best for the Broncos at this time as well as gives Kyle an opportunity to catch on with another team," Broncos executive John Elway said of waiving Orton, according to the team.

Tebow was named the starter during Denver's bye week, relegating Orton and his 67 career starts to the bench. Orton completed 58.7 percent of his passes this season for 979 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions.

"I spoke with Kyle earlier today and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos," coach John Fox said in a statement released by the team. "He was a true professional throughout this season. I've got a great deal of respect for him as both a player and as a person. ...

"This was the right decision for our football team. We feel good about our quarterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents."

If Orton is claimed off waivers, a team would have to pick up the remainder of the $8.8 million salary that he's owed this season. Should Orton clear waivers by Wednesday afternoon, he would become a free agent. With his current contract on its final year, Orton will become a free agent after the season.

There are teams in need of a veteran quarterback with starting experience -- including the team that shipped Orton to Denver in a blockbuster trade two years ago.

The Chicago Bears, who traded Orton and draft picks to the Broncos for Jay Cutler, plan to add a veteran quarterback with Cutler set to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a broken thumb that will sideline him for several weeks, if not longer.

The Bears will start Caleb Hanie this weekend against the Oakland Raiders, but with a playoff berth very much in reach, adding a veteran with as much starting experience as Orton would seem to be an option, although he's not familiar with offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo told me Tuesday before Orton was waived that Chicago hoped to have a veteran signed by Wednesday afternoon. The Bears have considered J.T. O'Sullivan and Josh McCown, among others. It isn't known if they would consider bringing back Orton, who is familiar with some members of the coaching staff and several players.

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Orton, who's in the final year of his contract, had drawn trade interest during training camp. The Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins were among the teams reported to have engaged in trade talks with the Broncos.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who are in last place in the AFC West but still in position to win the division, put starting quarterback Matt Cassel (hand) on season-ending injured reserve Monday and also need a quarterback. Tyler Palko struggled as the Chiefs' starter in a 34-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday night.

The AFC South-leading Houston Texans also expect to find out if starting quarterback Matt Schaub (foot) will be lost for the season when he visits a specialist Wednesday. Matt Leinart will start this weekend, but the Texans have explored adding a veteran quarterback as well.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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