A lot of people—myself included—thought the Denver Broncos’ trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn was a sign that coach Josh McDaniels didn’t have much faith in Kyle Orton.
The conventional wisdom was that Quinn would push Orton for playing time, and we’d have a genuine quarterback controversy on our hands through the summer. That situation is looking less likely now with Orton firmly entrenched as the team’s starter and saying his only real competition is himself.
Orton tells The Denver Post Quinn’s presence won’t change anything about his approach to the season, and he’s chosen to focus instead on improving an offense that sputtered down the stretch last year. Yet, Orton had a decent season—21 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, and 3,802 yards according to NFL.com—so it stands to reason that he should improve in his second year.
McDaniels apparently feels the same way, telling Orton after the trade that although he was bringing Quinn to Denver to improve the backup quarterback situation, Orton would start (via The Associated Press). That doesn’t mean Orton will start all year, simply that he’ll be the day-one starter.
Orton is embracing the leadership role and says attending voluntary workouts is helping him bond with the team’s wide receivers, especially Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney.
Missing from the equation is Brandon Marshall, the team’s best wide receiver and among the top five in the NFL. Marshall is avoiding all voluntary workouts to protest the low tender he was offered from the team, something a lot of restricted free agents around the league are doing. Although no offers have come yet, the latest credible rumor is that Marshall could be going to the Washington Redskins to reunite with former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.
The Washington Post reports that Shanahan could be looking to add Marshall’s explosive talent to complement Donovan McNabb, the longtime Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Shanahan traded for earlier this week. Marshall has a first-round tender, so Shanahan would have to give the Broncos a first-round draft pick if he trades for Marshall before the draft, but he and the Broncos could work out some other arrangement, too. Plus, Marshall wants a new contract, and Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder has some of the deepest pockets in the NFL.