Broncos’ Orton set for blitz of questions on future |

Broncos’ Orton set for blitz of questions on future

Mike Klis
The Denver Post
Vail, CO CO Colorado

Every time Kyle Orton looks up this offseason, it seems like he’s facing third-and-long.

Hope for long-term security as the Broncos’ quarterback was first halted by the league’s labor dispute that stripped him from the leverage of unrestricted free agency. Then it was threatened by the acquisition of Brady Quinn. And now it has seemingly vanished with the first-round selection of Tim Tebow.

“I’m happy for Tim,” Orton said. “Excited to work with him. It really doesn’t change my mind-set at all. As I’ve said before, competition is part of this job. I don’t think this changes my standing at all. You know my wish is to be here for a long time. My play is just going to have to determine that.”

Before anointing Tebow as the Mile High Messiah, note that the Broncos aren’t establishing precedent by selecting a quarterback in the first round when they already had an established starter.

In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers had to be a reserve for three years before Brett Favre made his first attempt at retirement. In San Diego, Philip Rivers spent two years on the sidelines before Drew Brees suffered a shoulder injury. Kurt Warner stiff-armed No. 1 draft pick Matt Leinart in Arizona, and Kerry Collins turned Vince Young into an emotional mess in Tennessee.

And come again why the Broncos took Tommy Maddox in the first round of the 1992 draft, six years before John Elway capped his Hall of Fame career with a second consecutive Super Bowl title?

“The fact we draft a player doesn’t change our depth chart,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Saturday. “Every year, at every position where you draft a player, there’s already a starter. Did I call all the linebackers last year because I drafted Robert Ayers?”

There’s a reason, though, why there’s no such term as “offensive guard controversy,” but Broncos fans are now talking about a potential “quarterback controversy.”

“I understand the business,” Orton said. “I’ve been through some interesting situations for six years now. There’s only one thing I can control, and that’s my work and my play. I’m excited about going into my second year with this offensive system. I think we’re going to be a great team this year.”

It’s not so much 2010, though, that’s the issue for Orton with Tebow’s first-round selection. The issue is the Broncos sent the message that Tebow is the quarterback of their future at the same time Orton enters his contract year.

It creates the perception Orton could be the offense’s lame-duck leader.

“I think my teammates know what type of player I am,” Orton said. “They know what type of leader I am. In the NFL, you lead by how you play.

“I certainly understand the economics of a first-round draft pick at quarterback. But I’m really set on going out and having the best year of my career. And whatever decision they make, it’s going to be a tough one for them.”

Regardless of whether a collective bargaining agreement is reached following this season, Orton will draw a $2.621 million salary this year, then become an unrestricted free agent as a six-year player.

Tebow, as the No. 25 overall draft pick, can expect a five-year contract with $8 million guaranteed.

“You can’t control front-office moves,” Orton said. “You can’t control coaching and all that stuff. You can control your play, and you can control how you lead this offense. And I’ll be better at it this year than I was last year.”

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