Kyle Orton and Tony Romo have always had one thing in common. They're both underappreciated hard-throwing quarterbacks. Now, Orton and Romo have one more thing in common. Both are now wearing the Dallas Cowboys jersey. The Cowboys signed Orton to a three-year deal on Wednesday, according to ESPNDallas/Fort Worth.
Orton was the best possible backup quarterback on the free-agent market. Rex Grossman, who played with Orton for the Chicago Bears, brought the Bears to Super Bowl XLI, but struggled to hang onto a starting job after that. Brady Quinn and others on the market had started, but haven't proven to be effective in that role.
Others, like Chris Redman and Josh McCown, are fairly respectable backups, but couldn't be trusted to take over the Cowboys if Romo were to go down.
Orton is one who can be trusted to carry a team. He took the Bears to the playoffs as a rookie. He's spent four full seasons as an NFL starter.
Orton was one of the best free-agent quarterbacks available, one who could have gone for a starting job if he wanted. He's easily a top-15 quarterback. Orton threw for 3,653 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2010, placing 10th in yards passing and fourth in passing yards per game (281).
He has 14,532 yards, 80 touchdowns and 57 interceptions in his career.
Orton could easily run the Cowboys offense the way Romo does if Romo were to get injured. Orton showed while with the Denver Broncos that he can throw the long ball. In 2010, he threw 52 passes for 20 or more yards and 11 for 40 or more yards. That year, he averaged 7.3 yards per pass.
In 2009, Orton threw threw 43 passes of 20 yards or more and nine of 40 yards or more, while averaging seven yards per pass.
Orton has received some rough breaks in his career. After leading the Bears to a playoff berth in 2005, Grossman took back the helm after missing most of the season due to injury and they lost their first game.
In the 2007 Bears training camp, Orton and Grossman were unfairly declared to be in a battle for the starting job by the Chicago news media, even though Lovie Smith had decided on Grossman as the starter.
His time in Denver was unjustly cut short by Tebowmania. A public campaign by Broncos fans unseated him from the starting job last season, eventually leading to the Broncos waiving him. At first, the Kansas City Chiefs started Tyler Palko instead of Orton, but they eventually started Orton.
Orton will face less pressure than he did in Chicago and Denver. While Cowboys fans don't let up on their quarterbacks, they'll surely support Orton. Those who hate Romo would surely like to see Orton start. Meanwhile, the levelheaded fans recognize that Orton can capably back Romo up.
The Cowboys made a quick grab to get the absolutely best backup quarterback they could. If Romo were to get injured, the Cowboys' hopes wouldn't be lost. Cowboys fans can toast to security at the most important position on the field.