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June 19, 2014

Cowboys retirement standoff with QB Kyle Orton moving to training camp

Now that mini camp is over, the retirement standoff between the Dallas Cowboys and backup quarterback Kyle Orton has now been moved to training camp in Oxnard, Ca.

Orton has been fined roughly $70,000 for missing minicamp.

And he will be fined $30,000 each day if he doesn’t report to training camp with the team July 23.

The first practice is set for July 24.

Coach Jason Garrett said he has not talked to Orton but has been in touch his agent David Dunn, who was interestingly at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters on Wednesday but had no comment on the AWOL quarterback.

“We anticipate him being at training camp,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Communication is a big part of that situation, trying to understand why he wasn’t here and taking the necessary work. ... What we have to do and need to do as an organization is penalize him the necessary amounts of fines and those kinds of things. We also just want to understand and communicate and try to figure out [how] this situation is going to play out that’s best for the Dallas Cowboys and for Kyle Orton.” 

If Orton wanted to play for the Cowboys in 2014 he would have been in minicamp.

 If he retires, Orton would have to repay $3 million to the Cowboys so he wants to be cut.

The Cowboys have no interest in cutting Orton and letting him walk away free and clear -- not after getting played by nose tackle Jay Ratliff a year ago when he forced his way off the team by feigning a season-ending injury only to sign with Chicago Bears after being cut by the Cowboys.

If Orton shows up for training camp and passes the physical, the Cowboys may have no choice.

They have already moved on from Orton on the field with Brandon Weeden on board as the primary backup to Tony Romo.

Weeden even acknowledged that when he signed with the Cowboys in March he knew of Orton's interest in not wanting to play. The Cowboys have known it all along as well. 

Besides there is no way they can keep Orton on the roster after this off-season stunt. You can't preach to your team about being accountable to each other, about being all in and selfless and then bring Orton back into the locker room.

And if the Cowboys cut Orton in training camp or after training camp, there is nothing they can do to get the $3 million back.

The Cowboys do get to save his $3.25 million base salary for this year, money they could use to sign tackle Tyron Smith and/or receiver Dez Bryant to long-term contract extensions.

But that pro-rated bonus money they hope to get back is all but lost.

The Cowboys could try to file a grievance, citing Orton as a distraction to the team due to attitude/actions. But that is hard to prove, especially if he shows up to training camp in shape and attends meetings on time.

The off-season program is voluntary. And the minicamps are mandatory in name only considering players are fined only $70,000 for missing the three-day workouts.

And regarding that mini camp fine and the training camp fine if he misses, there is also little the Cowboys can do to get that money either. Fines are taken out of your salary. Salaries are only paid during the regular season.

If Orton is not on the team, where is the money coming from? 

They might as well move on now.

Clarence Hill

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