Orton Still a Bronco … for Now

Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd

Kyle Orton helped Brandon Lloyd to his first 1,000-yard season last year, but it seems their partnership is over. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – For now, at least, Kyle Orton is still a Bronco.

Even as trade rumblings continue to roll around Dove Valley, Orton showed up at Broncos headquarters on Wednesday, leaving for just over two hours in the afternoon but returning in time for the team’s 4 p.m. MDT camp-opening meeting.

Even though it appears there’s a better chance of Orton being the opening-day starter in Miami than Denver, the Broncos retain his rights, and unless they tell him otherwise, he was required to be at Dove Valley for the camp-opening meeting or officially be considered a holdout.

“I didn’t know all the rules and stuff, but there’s obviously some logistic things about showing up to camp,” said wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. “Technically he’s still a member of the Denver Broncos football team, so it was normal after I saw him.”

But that status seems certain to change — perhaps before the Broncos’ first practice Thursday morning.

Lloyd seemed to be regarding Orton’s Broncos career in the past tense.

“Kyle’s going to be awesome, wherever he goes,” Lloyd said. “There’s a lot of vacancies in the NFL for really good quarterbacks, and Kyle’s a really good quarterback, and he’s going to be fine.”

But with Tim Tebow waiting in the wings, an expected shift to a more conservative offense and needs at running back and defensive tackle, Orton’s salary is one that is hard to justify fitting under the salary cap. His base salary is $7.4 million, and before that, he is due a $1.5 million roster bonus.

If the Broncos are to make a play for some of the free agents to which they’ve been connected via myriad reports — starting with Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and soon-to-be released Ravens running back Willis McGahee — then the salary relief that a trade could provide might be essential.

For now, all the Broncos can do is get ready to work — with or without their quarterback of the last two years.

“The thing that I’ve learned over my years playing in the league is that you only worry about those things you can control — and that’s something we can’t control,” safety Brian Dawkins said. “The only thing we can control is putting out a better product this year, period.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in a lot of different areas, and that’s what we need to concern ourselves with, and whoever is the quarterback, we want to back that individual 100 percent.

About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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