IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has said the same thing regarding Kyle Orton the last few times he has met with the media. He “anticipates,” Orton being with the team for the mandatory minicamp in June.
That does not mean Orton wants to play in 2014. It simply means he could show just to avoid a fine of roughly $70,000 for missing the mandatory camp.
Asked Saturday if that could be Orton’s plan, Garrett said, “You’ll have to ask him that.”
Orton has been quiet. His agent, David Dunn, who also represents Garrett, said at the NFL owners meetings that retirement was never option, yet Orton has yet to show up for the voluntary offseason conditioning program.
Orton took part in it in 2012 and ’13. The Cowboys would like him to be around to learn some of the changes Scott Linehan is implementing offensively. They would like him to get more work as Tony Romo recovers from back surgery. They would like him to help the younger quarterbacks.
If Orton retires, he would owe the Cowboys $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012. Retirement is not an option.
If the Cowboys cut Orton after June 1, they save $3.25 million against the cap this year. Because of the voidable remaining years on his contract, he will count $2.255 million against the cap in 2015 anyway.
The Cowboys will have an idea if Orton really wants to play by the type of shape he is in at the June camp. If he is in decent shape, then he could continue to play. If not, then he could be looking for the Cowboys to cut him, which would not require him to repay the team any of the signing bonus.
Some want to criticize Orton for wanting it both ways -- not wanting to play and not wanting to repay the money -- but teams often want it both ways, asking players to take pay cuts or risk being cut. Orton is using his only leverage.
The Cowboys have signed Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie in the offseason and added undrafted free agent Dustin Vaughan. They view Weeden as a developmental quarterback and would want Orton to fulfill the contract. If he doesn’t, then Weeden would be Romo’s backup.
“We’re still hopeful that Kyle will be here,” quarterback coach Wade Wilson said, “but if he doesn’t, we feel really good about Brandon, especially since he’s going through our off-season program.”