Kansas City Chiefs fans shouldn’t expect Kyle Orton to be back with the team in 2012.
In fact, they shouldn’t want him back.
It just doesn’t make sense.
For starters, Matt Cassel is still under contact. He’s coming back and despite a poor first half of 2011, he is still the favorite to be the team’s starting QB in 2012.
With Cassel in the picture, it doesn’t really make sense for Orton, an unrestricted free agent, to return to KC. Cassel is the incumbent starter so Orton would really have to outplay him in camp to steal the job. I’d give Orton a 40% chance of winning in that situation with the other 60% going to Cassel.
Regardless of the odds, the last thing the Chiefs should want is a training camp battle between Matt Cassel and Kyle Ortron. It sets the team up for all kinds of drama. No matter who wins a battle like that, the team loses. The minute the winner has a bad game, the calls for the other guy will come on loud and strong. The distractions will begin and guys in the locker room will inevitably start choosing sides. It will be a mess.
The hell of it is, a QB controversy would be pointless. Calling for Matt Cassel to be benched for Kyle Orton is like sending back peas for the broccoli. It might be a slight upgrade but certainly not one you’re like to notice.
If Orton was really a clear cut choice over Cassel then Kansas City would be repeat AFC West champions and it might have been the Chiefs that upset the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend. Had that happened, Kyle Orton would have been a hero in Kansas City.
But it didn’t.
It didn’t happen because Kyle Orton couldn’t beat the Oakland Raiders at home. Sure, there were a lot of other folks to blame in that game but nobody was more responsible than Orton. His woeful play in the red zone is nothing new. That game was a perfect example of why Kyle Orton has never taken off in the NFL. He’s good but he’s not good enough. He’s not reliable.
Cassel is pretty much the same QB. While Orton does some things better than Cassel between the 20’s, Cassel is better in the red zone and takes better care of the football. Combine them and you might have Joe Flacco. Instead, you have two guys who are almost 30 and who have probably peaked. It would be a major upset if either of them ever wins a Super Bowl.
Having both Orton and Cassel on the 2012 Chiefs’ roster squashes any chance of the team obtaining a franchise QB. If KC fans want to see their team win it all before they die, a franchise QB is what they should be pulling for every season.
For Orton, it makes sense to move on. There are plenty of teams out there in need of stability at the QB position and Orton offers that. Just like Cassel, he is good enough to start in the NFL on some of the league’s lower tier teams. He’ll likely be able to find a starting job in 2012 that he won’t have to compete for and he’ll take it.
Who can blame him?
By 2014, both Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton will be “quality NFL veteran backup QBs.” They’ll stretch our their careers for a little while longer and then they’ll be done. Heck, one or both of them might even get to come in and win a big game here or there for the guy they are backing up. They’ll be paid well. It’s not a bad way to go out.
Not everyone gets to be a star.
The Chiefs will probably make Orton an offer and tell him he can come to camp to compete with Cassel. They’ll do this because I think Scott Pioli still believes he can win a championship with another team’s leftovers. It will probably take another wasted season in Kansas City before Pioli gets serious about getting a franchise QB.
I predict the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs QB position will shake out like this:
-Pioli makes a low-ball offer to Orton before the NFL Draft.
-Orton gets an offer from a team where he is sure to start. He politely declines Pioli’s offer. Thanks him for the memories and moves on for his last hurrah.
-Pioli signs a veteran backup QB. It will be someone who has no chance of starting over Cassel but who has some experience. Think Damon Huard.
-Pioli drafts a QB somewhere between the 3-5 rounds of the draft. The Chiefs go to camp with four QBs, and the rookie and Ricky Stanzi fight it out for the last QB slot. The Chiefs obviously weren’t thrilled with Stanzi’s development last season so I’d say he is probably the one who loses out.
-If the rookie shows any promise whatsoever, he’ll move into the backup QB role fairly quickly.
-Cassel will be the starter in 2012. Depending on the development of Stanzi/imaginary rookie, Cassel could be benched before the season is over.
-2012 will be Matt Cassel’s last year as the starter in KC.
It doesn’t sound great, and it is not how I would do it but it is a situation that could work out. The Chiefs will be good enough to hover around .500 even if their QB play to start the season is poor. There is a decent chance that one of the other guys could come in and spark the team to a division title. It is a long shot but it could happen, especially in the AFC West.
Then again, maybe Pioli will surprise us and trade up for RGIII or trade back and take Tannehill. Maybe he’ll even snag Peyton Manning.
But don’t hold your breath.