The answer is obvious, at least to me, and that's why it makes perfect sense for the Chicago Bears to place a waiver claim on Orton, whom the Denver Broncos waived Tuesday. Orton is three years removed from his tenure in Chicago and has no background with the offense the Bears run under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. But if current starter Caleb Hanie were sidelined while Jay Cutler recovers from thumb surgery, I would feel better with a veteran like Orton -- even if he knows 40 percent of the playbook -- than a rookie whose last game experience came while playing for the Idaho Vandals.
Coach Lovie Smith said Monday that he hoped to sign a veteran for depth in the coming days, and the Bears' lack of movement so far has fueled speculation they might be eyeing Orton. According to the Denver Post, Orton and his agent pushed for a move this week to give him a chance to re-join the Bears following Cutler's injury.
But keep in mind that the waiver system awards players in reverse order of record, with ties broken by strength of schedule, and there are at least two teams who have priority over the Bears that might also be interested. The Kansas City Chiefs have lost starter Matt Cassel and are going with inexperienced backup Tyler Palko. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are without starter Matt Schaub. The Chiefs and Texans have waiver priority over the Bears. *Update: The Texans are not interested in Orton, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
We'll know by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET whether Orton has been claimed or if he is a free agent. I don't see a short-term scenario in which Orton could come in and start over Hanie, but he would be a more reliable option than Enderle at this point. From my understanding, Orton left Chicago on good terms with the organization and is respected by the veterans in their locker room. Stay tuned.