Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Kyle Orton and the Bears won’t be reunited after all. Rapid Reporter Bob Gretz has confirmed an ESPN report that the Chiefs have claimed him off waivers from the Broncos.
Which makes perfect sense for Kansas City. Considering Matt Cassel is out for the season and Tyler Palko wasn’t great (but not completely terrible) last Monday against the Patriots -- he went 24 for 37 for 230 yards, three interceptions and a 48.3 rating in a 34-3 loss -- the Chiefs obviously feel like Orton gives them a chance to compete for the AFC West title.
Where they’re competing against (surprise!) the Broncos for a potential division championship. The two squads will face each other Jan. 1 in Kansas City in a contest that could have major playoff implications, especially if Tim Tebow continues to lead Denver to wins and Orton can reinvigorate the Chiefs. Entering this week, the Raiders are 6-4 to lead the AFC West, but the Broncos are 5-5 and are followed by the 4-6 Chiefs and Chargers.
|The Tebow, Orton eras begin ...|
For those who wonder if Orton would decline to travel to Kansas City to fulfill his obligations, I think you can safely close the door on those thoughts. Don’t you think he would vastly enjoy ruining the Broncos season for his new team’s own benefit?
Yet, that’s also what makes this transaction strange. The Broncos must have known there was an awfully good chance the Chiefs would claim Orton -- I mean, John Elway probably watched that Monday night game and saw what Palko means to that team , right? -- if they waived him. Since Orton will be a free agent after this season, there’s a decent chance he’ll sign elsewhere in the offseason, and that means the Chiefs could win a compensatory draft pick* if they lose him.
*Can you imagine if the Chiefs beat the Broncos, expose Tim Tebow, win the AFC West and THEN get a mid-round draft pick for him?
On the Denver side, Tebow, who knocked Orton out of the starting quarterback role, seemed happy for his former colleague.
"Congratulations to him,” Tebow said, via the Denver Post. “That’ll be fun to play him the last game of the year."
But won’t Orton have a big advantage in knowing what kind of offense the Broncos run and the signals they use? After all, Orton ran that offense for the first five games of the season.
"Obviously he knows it pretty well, so he could probably give away a few things,” Tebow said. “But I think we’ll be OK.”
The Bears and Cowboys also made waiver claims on Orton, meaning that even if the Chiefs didn’t win him, Orton would be traveling to Dallas now based on the waiver order. What’s interesting about the claim made by the Cowboys -- who obviously have a starting quarterback named Tony Romo but have a backup in Jon Kitna who has a balky back -- is that it smells like Dallas claimed him simply to block Chicago from getting him.
That’s because the two teams will battle for one of the NFC wild card spots, and the Cowboys know as well as anybody that Chicago would have a better chance of accomplishing that if it played Orton instead of Caleb Hanie.
Meanwhile, the Bears announced that Jay Cutler underwent thumb surgery Wednesday and should begin rehab “within the next few days.” Chicago will still have Hanie starting this week and the forseeable future, though the team also announced that it’s signed Josh McCown to a one-year deal Wednesday. Not quite as exciting as landing Orton. But it’s something, I suppose.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.