As far as the Cowboys are concerned, there is no longer any question about backup quarterback Kyle Orton's status for 2014.
Vice-president Stephen Jones said he has talked a few times with Orton's agent David Dunn and it's his understanding that the quarterback will return to his role as Tony Romo's primary backup. There had been whispers of Orton thinking about retirement but not anymore, Jones said.
"Yes, that’s how I understand it," Jones said. "I guess everyone reserves the right to change their mind. We’ve just talked to Dave briefly. We’re assuming he’s under contract and he is."
The devil is also in the details. Orton would have to return $3 million of his $5 million signing bonus if he decided to retire.
Jones added that Orton's situation had nothing to do with the team's decision to sign former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden in free agency.
Weeden, 30, a former 2012 first-round pick who was cut after two miserable seasons with the Cleveland Browns, is being looked at as developmental prospect in Dallas, Jones said. The Cowboys had him rated as a second pick in 2012 and are still intrigued by his potential despite his advanced age. But there is no guarantee he even makes the roster. The Cowboys have carried just two quarterbacks the past two years.
"That was an opportunity," Jones said of the team's decision to sign Weeden. "I think it was well-documented that we had him in our second round. That was a chance to get a quarterback – I know he’s not young – but he’s young as far as league years are concerned. We like him. But if he proves out he’s worth developing, then we’ll carry three, like we did with (Stephen) McGee for many years."
Weeden signed a two-year minimum deal with the Cowboys with no bonus and no guaranteed money. He will get $570,000 in 2014 and $660,000 in 2016 if he makes the team.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.