Kyle Orton trade rumors and the tender trap

With so many quarterbacks clogging up the Denver Broncos' roster, it's only natural that trade rumors would surface about 2009 starter Kyle Orton.

After all, bringing in two more QBs -- Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow -- during the off-season hardly qualifies as a vote of confidence.

Yesterday, coach Josh McDaniels tried to knock down such gossip, insisting that none of the Broncos hurlers are the subject of trade talks.

But that doesn't mean McD would never willing to consider a parting of the ways with Orton. There's evidence aplenty that he already has.

A very cogent explanation for this assertion comes courtesy of Mile High Report's John Bena, who correctly points out that that by hanging a first-round tender on Orton, the squad was essentially gauging interest from other NFL squads. Here's how Bena puts it:

By placing the 1st Round Tender on Orton, they were telling teams what his price tag would be. If a team thought Orton was worth a contract -- and the 1st Round compensation -- they would have made the move. The Broncos would then have had to decide whether to match the offer, or take the pick. In other words, they would have traded Kyle Orton for a 1st Round pick.

Of course, few believed any general manager would pony up a first rounder for Orton, especially in light of the Broncos' fade during the second half of last season. But just because execs hung asked too much for KO doesn't mean they wouldn't have parted ways with him had a team opened up its wallet wider than anticipated.

There's an old joke -- I seem to remember it being attributed to Alfred Hitchcock, although this site mentions Rodney Dangerfield -- that sheds light on the scenario. A man asks a woman if she'd sleep with him for a million dollars. When she doesn't immediately reject him, he follows up by wondering if she'd do it for twenty bucks -- and when she indignantly demands, "What kind of a woman do you think I am?," he responds, "We've already established that. Now we're negotiating."

In other words, if the Broncos would never have considered ditching Orton, they would have avoided tendering him. But instead, they went ahead with the process.

That's not to suggest Orton's available for a bargain price. Indeed, given the uncertainty involving the quarterback position, McDaniels and company would be stupid to get rid of him right away unless they were offered the moon and the sky, which ain't gonna happen. Simply put, Orton's an insurance policy in case neither Quinn nor Tebow develop quickly enough to give the Broncos a chance to win in 2010.

And if they do? McDaniels's tune about trade talks is likely to change, and change quickly.

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