Cowboys to cut holdout quarterback Kyle Orton

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The Dallas Cowboys are finally moving on from disgruntled backup quarterback Kyle Orton.

According to multiple sources, the team plans to cut Orton, who boycotted the off-season program and minicamp in an attempt to force his release.

The team’s decision to release Orton paves the way for Brandon Weeden to head into training camp next week as the primary backup to starter Tony Romo.

The Cowboys had held on to Orton’s rights hoping that he would retire, thus forcing him to pay back $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus they gave him before last season.

Orton had no interest in paying the money back, and now he won’t have to.

It’s also unlikely that the Cowboys will recoup the nearly $70,000 in fines levied against Orton for missing mandatory minicamp in June.

Fines are deducted from regular-season salary. Orton won’t be getting a check from the Cowboys.

But cutting Orton saves Cowboys $3.25 million in cap space in 2014, money they can use for possible long-term deals for offensive tackle Tyron Smith and/or receiver Dez Bryant.

Orton will count $2.25 million in dead money against the cap in 2015.

A former first-round pick by Cleveland in 2012, Weeden was cut by the Browns in March after two lackluster seasons.

Weeden, who was 5-15 as a starter, has completed 438 of 784 attempts for 5,116 yards while throwing 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. His passer rating in two NFL seasons is 71.8.

Rumors about Orton possibly wanting out prompted the Cowboys to sign the 30-year-old Weeden as an insurance policy as well as a developmental quarterback for the future.

The Cowboys have liked Weeden’s potential since his days at Oklahoma State and believe he can succeed in the right environment. He played for two coaches and in two offenses in his two years at Cleveland.

Per a source, the Cowboys gained confidence in Weeden as the primary backup because of his impressive play with the first-team offense during organized team activities and minicamp with Orton out and Romo recovering from back surgery.

Weeden, who will turn 31 in October, will be pushed in camp by Caleb Hanie and rookie free agent Dustin Vaughan.

But there is no doubt the Cowboys are focused on Weeden as Romo’s primary backup. It’s a job that is more important than ever with Romo, 34, coming off his second back surgery in as many seasons.

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760 Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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