It definitely wouldn’t make the headline splash of bringing Peyton Manning to town, but the Washington Redskins might be better off going after Kyle Orton as they look for a solution to the quarterback position.
Not much is better than a healthy Peyton Manning, but at this point, no one knows whether Manning can regain his health, whether he even will be available, and whether he even wants to come to Washington.
Landing Orton involves less risk and could ensure better continuity for a number of reasons, however.
Don’t get me wrong, Orton is no franchise quarterback. A seven-year veteran, Orton has played a full season only once in his career, and twice he played 15 games. But the Purdue product is a solid quarterback who limits his mistakes and has the ability to keep a team in the game.
The Redskins still need to draft a quarterback — whether they trade up for Robert Griffin III or take someone like Ryan Tannehill in the second round — and Orton would make a better bridge than Rex Grossman.
Grossman had the respect of his Redskins teammates and coaches because he’s fearless, hangs tough and fires the ball downfield even though he knows a big hit is coming, and because he puts receivers in position to make plays. But he doesn’t have a conscience, makes poor decisions and too often keeps opponents in the games as well.
So the Redskins most likely have gotten as far as they can with Grossman. An outside chance remains that he would return, but it won’t shock anyone if Mike Shanahan & Co. opt to go in another direction.
When it comes to ability, Orton isn’t all that different from Grossman and is actually a little better.
In 54 NFL games, Grossman has completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 10,232 yards (189.5 ypg). He has thrown 56 touchdowns and 60 interceptions. He owns a career passer rating of 71.4.
Orton has played in 71 games and is a 58.3-percent passer. He has thrown for 14,532 yards (204.7 ypg) and 80 touchdowns, with 57 interceptions, and has a 79.4 passer rating.
That touchdown-to-interception column is the difference.
The Redskins would be able to bring in Orton, coach him up, plug him into the system and basically keep the system intact. The acquisition of Manning would require all sorts of modifications.
Orton likely would be cheaper than Manning, as well. He had a base salary of $4.5 million last year, and probably would come at a similar price. That contract could include escalators that could increase it to $8 million to $9 million depending on how much he plays and how well he does.
Mike Shanahan has said repeatedly that getting a quarterback won’t solve everything. He has added that the key to helping a young quarterback — or any passer, for that matter — is assembling a strong supporting cast.
Signing Orton to a modest deal could still allow the Redskins to meet other needs. They need a big-play receiver, and the top two on the market, San Diego’s Vincent Jackson and Indianapolis’ Pierre Garcon, won’t come cheap. Washington also needs a right tackle, could need a left guard, and on defense must re-sign London Fletcher and address the safety and nickel back positions.
The Redskins, entering Shanahan’s third season, could get a solid veteran in Orton and remain competitive while, at the same time, grooming a rookie who could take the keys in another year or so.
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