Uncertainty clouds the backup quarterback position at Chicago Bears training camp with Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen competing for the No. 2 job. So it’s no surprise general manager Phil Emery expressed an interest Saturday in potentially bringing back Kyle Orton.
“I have great respect for Kyle,” Emery told Jeff Dickerson on ESPN Radio. “When I was in Kansas City, we brought him in. That’s the famous claim the Bears figured they would get [in 2011]. We claimed him. He came in. He started against the Bears; got hurt first or second play. At the time in Kansas City, we won the game. The next week, he starts against Green Bay, an undefeated Green Bay team [which] had the longest winning streak in football at that point. [He] beat them; beat them in Kansas City. Great leadership skills, guys really like playing for him, big arm. So the skill set is there. But as far as where he’s going in his career… that we don’t know.”
Orton was preparing to play his ninth season in the NFL when the Dallas Cowboys released him just before the start of training camp. The release came after Orton skipped Dallas’ offseason program while contemplating retirement.
Orton reportedly spent a few days in Dallas meeting with club officials, but the Cowboys ultimately decided to release him. During those meetings, Orton told team officials he would show up to training camp. But throughout the offseason, Orton reportedly had cut off all communication with Cowboys officials.
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones said just before the quarterback’s release that Orton intended to play in 2014, but many around the league believe Orton will retire.
“[There’s] a lot of rumors in terms of him retiring,” Emery said. “I certainly know that if he had an interest in playing, that would be out in the league. We’re extremely excited about Jay [Cutler], and we’re extremely excited about the competition we have for the backups. If we see a player at quarterback or any other position that can help us, we’ll certainly take a look.”
Since losing Orton in the 2009 trade that brought Cutler to Chicago, the Bears have tried twice to bring him back. When Cutler suffered a broken thumb in 2011, the Bears put in a waiver claim for Orton, who was awarded to the Chiefs. At the time, Emery was Kansas City’s director of college scouting.
Emery tried to sign Orton during free agency in 2012, but the quarterback opted to play for the Cowboys.
“There’s an interest on our end on looking at any player that can help this team, and we continue to do that,” Emery said. “We want to keep looking at players that can really have a legitimate chance to make our team. If there’s a quarterback, a wideout, a defensive person -- a DB that could help us -- we're certainly gonna look at him.”
Orton certainly falls into that category, provided he still wants to play.