Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton has officially gone AWOL.
Orton, who missed the entire off-season program and organized team activities, was a no-show for the start of the team’s mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
His absence was not unexpected, according to owner Jerry Jones, considering Orton’s off-season stance and his no-show for his pre-camp physical Monday.
Jones said Tuesday morning that his team has not been in contact with Orton, but they have spoken with his agent, David Dunn, about the consequences per the contract and the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
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“Well, of course we were aware that he wasn’t going to be here,” Jones said. “We are just handling all of our business with him the way the agreement is called for. This is mandatory for him to be here. Consequences have been pre-negotiated when we did our contract. We will let it play out from there.”
Orton is subject to $69,455 in fines if he misses all of the minicamp. He already has lost $75,000 for missing too many workouts, part of a de-escalator in his contract. Orton was scheduled to make $3.25 million this season before any fines and the de-escalator. He would have to repay the Cowboys $3 million of his signing bonus if he retires.
The Cowboys report to training camp July 22 and begin workouts July 24 in Oxnard, Calif.
He would be subject to fines of $30,000 a day for missing training camp, then the Cowboys would begin the process of trying to regain the $3 million in signing bonus money from Orton.
“We’re not going to do anything with the roster regarding Kyle Orton right now,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’re just going to proceed as normal. We expect him to be here for a mandatory minicamp; he’s not. We’ll handle it the way we need to handle it in regards to the penalties and we’ll just coach the guys who are here.
Jones and Garrett have been steadfast throughout the off-season in support of Orton returning in 2014 to backup quarterback Tony Romo — especially after the way he performed in the season finale last season against Philadelphia in place of the injured Romo.
So his absence is an obvious disappointment.
“I’m not anything,” Jones said. “All you can do is come to agreements and you will then deal with it as it comes. But as far as what we’re doing out here right now, what we need to be doing as it impacts the year, we’ll see how it goes. We’ll do everything according to the agreement just like he’s doing.”
Even without Orton in camp, the Cowboys have been pleased with the progress of Brandon Weeden, the former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.
He has taken all the first-team snaps during OTAs and minicamp because of Orton’s absence and Romo’s rehab from back surgery.
“We are just trying to get Brandon Weeden an opportunity to show us what he can do,” Garrett said. “I think he has done a tremendous job taking advantage of the opportunity he has gotten with Kyle not being here and Tony not being able to take any of those competitive reps. It’s been a good learning experience.”
The Cowboys are confident that Weeden can handle the backup job. But they have no plans to let Orton walk away without consequences and repaying $3 million.
The Cowboys privately don’t want it to turn into a situation such as the one with Jay Ratliff last season when they cut him after Ratliff claimed he was injured because he didn’t want to play in Dallas. He then signed with the Chicago Bears and played against the Cowboys late in the year.