Edit: And he ends up with Kansas City. I'm actually surprised that the Colts didn't make a claim on him but I guess they're definitely deciding to blow off the rest of the season to get the QB they want in the draft.
"I spoke with Kyle earlier today and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos," coach John Fox said in a statement. "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."
The team was 1-4 under him this year, but I don't think you can blame him entirely for that. Bench him, yes, but cut bait and run? I guess the Broncos really do have faith in Tim Tebow as their guy going forward, or else they're planning on making moves in the draft to get a QB to compete for a job.
Just last year Orton threw for 3,653 yards. The year before that it was 3,802 yards. Both years he averaged 7 yards an attempt or more and both years he threw for 20 tds or more. Both years that yardage total.
With a whole host of quarterback injuries throughout the league Orton won't be out of a job long. He'll definitely be claimed off waiver wires by a team, the only question is which team?
Jay Cutler is out indefinitely. Possibly six weeks, possibly the season. In Chicago he has the best chance of going to the playoffs. The team is rolling, the defense is playing good, the offensive line is working finally and Matt Forte is pounding the rock. He'd only be a backup though and would probably be released at the end of the season. He's not in their long term plans.
Matt Schaub is likely done for the season due to a foot injury. The guy at the helm there is Matt Leinart who couldn't keep the job in Arizona. I can't think that the coaching staff is comfortable with that situation and Orton could likely move right in and start. However the same situation applies there as with Chicago--Orton might end up starting but he'd most likely be gone the next season.
Matt Cassel broke his hand playing against the Denver Broncos and is also done for the season. The replacement is Tyler Palko. Again I can't imagine that the coaching staff is too thrilled with that idea, and if they could get Orton they'd jump in glee at paying him $4 million to be their starting QB for the year. However the team stinks and won't make the playoffs. Then Orton would have to face the prospect of finding another job after Cassel returns in 2012.
I actually think that the NFC West is the most likely landing spot for Kyle Orton. There are at least two teams who could use a new starting quarterback and another team that could use an experienced backup quarterback to fill in.
Bradford has already missed two games this season. He's been sacked 37 times this year, which is more than any other quarterback (even after missing those two games). Chances are he'll get hurt again and the Rams don't have a quality backup. Orton's $4.5 million salary is a little more than most backups make, but it might be worth it for insurance purposes. Of course the team has to deal with Bradford's massive contract too and it might not be wiling to pay so much for two quarterbacks.
Amazingly the Seahawks are at 4-6, but they've also played a weak schedule. Last week they beat the Rams on the strength of Tavaris Jackson's 14/24 for 148 yards and 1 td. I'm sure they would love an experienced signal caller like Kyle Orton there. Would they be willing to pay him the $4 million he's due? Maybe not--they did let Matt Hasselbeck go and he was a far better option than any QB they had at the time.
I don't think I need to say anymore about the Cardinals. They paid a massive salary to Kolb who has done nothing. They've gone through more backup QBs than anybody else in the league. Last week against the 49ers they went through two backup QBs and neither one was exactly outstanding. Orton would be a blessing for them and might give their fanbase some home of eking out 6 wins on the season. Of course they would still need to find room on their roster for his salary plus Kolb's ridiculous contract.
So here's how the waiver wire works. The teams with the worst record gets to choose first, then on down the line. Teams with the same record break the tie based on strength of schedule. Right now the order for claiming Orton based on the teams I've listed would go like this: