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Kyle Orton could have been a Colt, Bill Polian says

NFL owners agreed to move the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8 last week. Had that rule been enacted just one year earlier, the Indianapolis Colts could have stepped up their efforts to acquire quarterback Kyle Orton from the Denver Broncos. Bill Polian tells Sports Illustrated's Peter King in this week's edition of "Monday Morning Quarterback".

The move could have led to the Colts finishing with a better record in 2011 and keeping Peyton Manning, which would have allowed another team to draft Andrew Luck.

"I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us," said Polian, who was let go from his role as team president by owner Jim Irsay after the season.

"We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn't great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who'd gone to (Tim) Tebow by then, and said, 'Hey, we'll give you a three (third-round draft choice) for Orton.' "

By Nov. 1, which would have been the hypothetical trade deadline Polian refers to, the Colts were 0-8 and five games behind the Houston Texans in the AFC South. Could they have fared better than 2-6 in the second half of the season had they traded for Orton?

Perhaps, but if the Colts knew their quarterback situation was dire, and were of the opinion that Orton could have helped win another game or two for them down the stretch, why didn't the Colts put in a claim when the Broncos placed Orton on waivers on Nov. 22?

According to King, two of the games in which Orton could have made a difference were a 27-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers and a 19-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular season finale.

The Colts could have had Orton in those games for just the $1.588 million that remained on Orton's base salary over the final six weeks of the season. But the Colts did not put a claim in for Orton (and at 0-10, they would have had priority over the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, three teams that did put in claims), sticking with the quarterbacks they had for the final six weeks of the season, winning two games and securing the No. 1-overall pick that would eventually be used on Luck.

Couldn't they have claimed Orton, won three or four of the six games down the stretch to finish outside of the top two picks and kept Manning?

We agree that moving the trade deadline will be beneficial going forward, but we fail to see how the new rule would have helped the 2011 Colts or saved Polian's hide in Indianapolis. In fact, doing so would have weakened the Colts going forward. Had an 0-8 Colts team traded a top-70 pick for eight weeks of Kyle Orton, heads still would have rolled and the new regime would have been without an top pick in their first draft towards rebuilding the franchise.

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