|Tebow and Orton meet again on Sunday. (Getty Images)|
Denver and Kansas City square off on Sunday with plenty at stake: the Broncos want to win the AFC West, and the Chiefs want to give Kyle Orton redemption for being benched and released by Denver earlier this year. Reportedly not at stake, though? Tim Tebow's job as a starter.
That's according to NFL.com's Jeff Darlington, who reports that Tebow is locked as the starter for Denver in 2012, regardless of whether or not the Broncos make the playoffs.
"Sources have indicated, regardless of the outcome Sunday, the Broncos plan to move forward with the mindset that Tebow will remain the team's starter in 2012," Darlington wrote Friday.
Darlington's also got a juicy nugget about the relationship between Orton and Tebow. The Broncos quarterbacks have a fine system that keeps each other accountable (this is common among NFL position players) and the group began fining Tebow when fans bought billboards demanding that Orton be benched and Tebow get starts.
Though this ultimately happened, it pretty clearly created a rift and explains why the Broncos let Orton go. (Darlington also reports that allowing Tebow to have "better control of the locker room" was a deciding factor in Orton's release.) But if letting Orton go ultimately costs the Broncos a shot at the playoffs, it's simply an indefensible decision.
A totally defensible one is keeping Tebow ingrained as the starter. There are many reasons for this. He's under contract in 2012. He won games. He could progress as a passer. There won't be a franchise quarterback available when the Broncos draft next April. Using picks to trade up grab a quarterback ignores other needs. The Broncos are still technically "rebuilding," and drafting defensive players would serve them better. Tim Tebow is an absolute cash cow for the team. Giving him a vote of confidence now only decreases the scrutiny on the situation leading into the final parts of this season.
The list could go on for a while. Which is why it makes a lot of sense for the Broncos to have already arrived at the decision that Tim Tebow's their starter in 2012. Even if their 2011 starter manages to knock them out of the playoff hunt.
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