NFL Network's Jason La Canfora thinks the odds of a deal are complicated by the likelihood of less preparation time than usual before the games get underway, the fact that Orton's in the final year of his contract extension, and Denver's willingness to keep him on the roster if the offers aren't sweet enough. Canfora writes:
You can have him at the right price -- Denver is obviously rebuilding, needs picks and Orton is in the final year of his extension -- but it won't be cheap.
If the right call comes in and the offer is strong, it will be considered, according to sources. But the idea that a third- or fourth-round pick might get it done is woefully misguided. A high second-round pick that converts to a first-rounder based on production, now that could be a different story.
Would the Broncos regard anything less to be a deal breaker? CBSSports.com's Will Brinson doesn't think so:
Now, if someone comes calling with a pile of mid-round picks, you've got to think the Broncos will consider making a move. Doing so won't guarantee them any wins now but it will help them in the long term and it will put Tim Tebow on the field right away.
That's not necessarily a formula for winning the division in 2011, but it's a pretty good formula for winning back fans who might be perturbed by the lockout situation.
This last observation is key. The Josh McDaniels debacle has led to unhappiness among Broncos fans of the sort we haven't seen around here for decades -- and naming Orton the starter, even if he may give the team a better chance for victories than does Tim Tebow, won't turn their frowns upside-down. Life might be easier for new coach John Fox, John Elway and the rest of the Denver braintrust if they simply take a flier on Tebow. That way, if he fails, they'll have support for changes they can't bank on now.
Of course, there's no telling whether the Dolphins and Vikings, as well as QB-needing teams like the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks, can sell their followers on Orton as the answer, since his healthy stats didn't convert into many W's last season. And squads won't be willing to meet the Broncos' demands without the sense that the move will garner enthusiasm among the masses.
That's why the current chatter about Orton is so valuable. The more people talk about his attributes, the more likely someone will pay handsomely for his services.
More from our Sports archive: "Top 10 ways Josh McDaniels has destroyed the Denver Broncos."