Yo Jets: We Got Kyle Orton, You Got a 2nd Round Pick in 2014… Let’s Talk

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When Alex Tanney hit Tim Benford on a perfect third-down slant with the Cowboys protecting a 3-point lead and about two minutes to play in Saturday’s preseason matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, he looked composed, competent, and in his element. In short, he looked like a real NFL quarterback.

Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Alex Tanney (7) celebrates after tight end Gavin Escobar (89) scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Tanney, the undrafted free agent with uncanny accuracy, has made rookie mistakes this preseason, but he doesn’t seem to respond to them like a rookie. Effective NFL quarterback play begins and ends between the ears; so far, Tanney does not appear to be overwhelmed by the speed or complexity of the pro game. He just looks like he has some things to learn, and that he’s fully capable of learning them in time.

This team won’t carry three quarterbacks, so could Tanney back up Tony Romo this year?  He’s looked pretty good running with the twos and threes – how much better would he look throwing to Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten? True, he’s been competing against twos and threes, but his developmental trajectory during camp suggests in time he can hold his own against the ones. It’s not a huge stretch – the kid seems to improve every week.

Orton was never intended to be Romo’s successor; he was signed as an insurance policy against a possible Romo injury. When Jon Kitna retired, the team gave up on developing Stephen McGee –another legacy of the wasted Wade Phillips era – and signed Orton to fill Kitna’s shoes: He doesn’t have the game to supplant Romo, but he has enough game to (we hope) keep the team competitive in a pinch.

Orton threw 10 passes last year as a Cowboy. That’s the kind of production you hope to see from your backup QB.  Perhaps the risk of Tanney netting more than 10 pass attempts this year is worthwhile, because Tanney has something Orton doesn’t – upside. As a backup, Tanney could hold a clipboard for the next few years, develop into a suitable backup under Romo’s tutelage, and prepare to one day compete for the starting job.

Could Tanney step in and manage a regular season game if he had to? He appears mobile enough to offset the offensive line deficiencies. Kept on a tight leash, with a simple game plan, there’s no reason to think the talent around him couldn’t compete and win, so long as he doesn’t turn the ball over.

Other teams with talented rosters have won recently with rookie starters. I’m not comparing Tanney to Russell Wilson, though perhaps I am comparing the 2013 Cowboys to the 2012 Seahawks. With the help of a great defense and a ton of turnovers, NFL coaches can effectively game plan around a talented rookie’s deficiencies – and the D looks to be back in Dallas this year.

The allure of this hypothetical is if Tanney could back up Romo this season, what do you suppose the Jets might cough up for Kyle Orton?

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  • Raymond Tippett

    I don’t think that would be a good idea, I do think we should keep the kid, but to trade Orton for a pick in next years draft well that would be just not sound . keep the kid don’t trade Orton if anything trade Stephens but not Orton. we cant play Russian roulette with the team if we did that that is what we would be doing

    • Hank Chinaski

      Why not trade Pendleton, Cook, and Vega for all the Jets 2014 draft picks?
      Stephens sucks, there are a 100 QB’s already floating out there with his skill level and unproven ability. What Bankston was trying to say is that Orton has VALUE and could bring a good pick our way while also developing a pretty good young guy…I’m in.

      • RoninSRM

        I say trade Orton get a 2nd-3rd and move up for Clowney.
        Ware can’t last for ever…

  • Keith Ranson

    Better Idea: Orton For a Guard,NOW!

  • Raymond Tippett

    they cut pedelton today so that wont work

    • Hank Chinaski

      That’s the point Tippett

  • jrcowboy49

    The trade should be explored! Tanny may not get past waivers for the practice squad and he would be a nice keeper. A 2nd pick would be nice for a quality OL draft pick!

  • cowboy28

    On what planet would the jets trade a 2nd for Orton? I’m all for keeping Tanney on the roster, but lets be reasonable.

    • John

      They traded a 4th and a 6th to Denver for Tebow and a 7th… So, maybe on this planet?

      • cowboy28

        Because a 4th and 6th for Tebow and 7th is comparable to a 2nd… They just spent a 2nd round pick on a “quarterback of the future”. You do not, under any circumstance, use equal value to bring in a place holder for said player. Alex Smith was traded for a 2nd. Orton isn’t Alex Smith and the chiefs were a qb needy team who did not want to draft a qb in this upcoming draft. This is so clearly a maddenesque type scenario its maddening.

        • John

          Arguably, Kyle Orton is Alex Smith. Orton’s career QB rating in 72 games is 79.7; Smith’s in 80 games is 79.1. Career passing yardage: Orton 14,621, Smith 14,280. TD/INT: Orton 81/57, Smith 81/63. They each entered the league in 2005, and they’ve both spent the bulk of their careers as starters. They’re remarkably similar players from a production and experience standpoint.
          And the Jets are at least as hard up for a QB as KC was before they signed Smith… Orton is an organizational asset, and the potential for Tanney’s quick development could free us up to shop that asset around. No reason to give him away, but no reason not to test the market either…

          • cowboy28

            If you remove Alex Smith’s unceremonious start while on a pitiful san fran team the numbers aren’t even close. In smith’s first three years he managed to be one of the worst quarterbacks in the league posting 19 tds and 31 interceptions. The difference between the two is so painfully obvious; Orton is trending down (no longer a starter and won’t be a starter again) while Alex Smith is trending up (with teams interested in him as a starter).

            As far as being as hard up for a qb, you must be joking. The Jets drafted their qb of the future (Geno Smith), Kansas City didn’t have a qb on the roster. Seriously, go look at their roster last year, Cassel and Quinn. Everybody knew Cassel was going to be cut and Quinn was a FA. They had nobody. It isn’t comparable. You simply don’t give up a 2nd round pick for a spot filler, you just play the qb of the future.

            In any event, I was not opposed to the idea of trading Orton for a draft pick, it is likely beneficial for the cap issues next season; however, this scenario just isn’t plausible. You would never get that sort of compensation for Orton from the Jets. They have no realistic shot to make a run at the superbowl, that is the type of team that would overpay for a player like Orton.

          • John

            Hey, now! I wasn’t looking to pick a fight with the captain of the debate team. I concede. Well played, sir…


    DaRick & Dooley n Dallas!

  • 2nd thought

    DaRick Rogers & Dez WOW!

  • Oliver Clothesoff

    No way are they keeping 3 QBs on the active roster and no way are they trading Orton.

    • John

      That’s probably true. But no harm in testing the water. Some team hard up for QB help might make the ‘Boys an offer they can’t refuse. The sting of losing the insurance policy is blunted by Tanney’s promise and the unliklihood that he’ll see the field this year…

  • ctcowboy1968

    Not happening this year. If Cowboys can keep Tanney (and I hope they do), it will happen next year. Won’t get a 2nd round pick for Orton.