Trades in the National Football League became possible at 10:00 EST this morning, and all eyes turned to Kevin Kolb. Another quarterback, however, has stolen some of his spotlight. It appears as though newly hired Denver Broncos coach John Fox has decided to start Tim Tebow and therefore Kyle Orton is on the trading block.
Despite the widespread attention of a potential Kolb trade for most of the off season, Orton has received higher reviews from analysts such as Greg Cosell, Ross Tucker and Pat Kirwan. This may explain why Orton appears to have more potential suitors according to rumors circulating today.
While Kolb is reportedly only being pursued by Arizona and Seattle, Orton has been to have interest from Arizona, Miami, Seattle and Washington. Now, NFL Network is reporting that the Tennessee Titans can be added to that list of potential suitors.
The fact that the Titans are in the market for a veteran quarterback is not a huge surprise. Tennessee has been linked to former Seahawks starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. This is the first time, however, that the Titans have apparently thought about trading for a starting signal caller.
The fact is, Hasselbeck makes a lot of sense for the Titans while Orton does not.
The Titans drafted their quarterback of the future, University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, with the 8th overall pick. Mike Munchak apparently does not want to throw Locker to the wolves, especially with an altered off season that featured no OTA’s or minicamps and a shortened training camp.
The Titans drafted Locker that high for a reason though, to get him on the field in the next year or two. That means that whatever quarterback they acquire is not only to win in the immediate timeframe, but has to be willing to mentor Locker and eventually pass the torch to him.
Therein lies the first problem. While Hasselbeck will turn 36 in September, Orton is only 28. Hasselbeck understands that this contract will be his last, but Orton is in the prime of his career. After already being traded once, Orton will be looking for a permanent home.
This doesn’t appear to be Tennessee’s problem, but it is. To acquire Orton, they would have to give up a fairly high draft pick or combination of picks. They will not be willing to hand over this compensation without knowing that Orton would be willing to sign a new contract with the team.
Why would Orton be willing to do that if he knew the quarterback of the future was already in place? So, even though it would appear as if Orton does not have any control over where the Broncos decide to trade him, in reality he holds a lot of leverage.
Even if Orton was willing to take on that role, it is doubtful that the Titans would want him to. Draft picks are even more valuable with a new rookie wage scale in place, and the compensation they would send to Denver would be spent for a one or two year stopgap until Locker was ready to start.
Hasselbeck does not carry any of these problems. There is far less of a demand for his services, after all he was let go by his former team of ten years. At his age, he could be had for a two or three year deal whereas Orton will want at least four or five.
This would be the perfect length of time to mentor and turn the reins over to Locker. Also, Hasselbeck is an unrestricted free agent so it would not cost the Titans and valuable draft picks.
Orton would probably not be the best tutor to Locker either. Orton is a downfield passer, as signified by his 7.3 yards per attempt rate in 2010. Locker will not be asked to run such a vertical offense, rather offensive coordinator Chris Palmer will likely utilize his athletic ability to enhance a run oriented, short yardage passing offense, especially early in his career.
Essentially, Kyle Orton would be a terrible fit in Tennessee. He might be better at this stage in his career than someone like Matt Hasselbeck, but not necessarily for the Titans.
Do you disagree or have any other thoughts you’d like to share about the Titans quarterback situation? Let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@JakeBRB).