Kyle Orton No Show At Cowboys' Voluntary Workouts

USA TODAY Sports

The ongoing workouts are officially voluntary, but those who don't participate can spark rumors about their future.

Earlier this year, there were rumors that Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was considering retirement. That was quickly countered by assertions from the Jones, both Jerry and Stephen, that they believed he was going to be with the team this coming season, and the rumors largely faded away.

The rumors are back now.

Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was not at Valley Ranch for Day 1 of the team's off-season program, according to sources.

Charean Williams, Ft Worth Star-Telegram

The Cowboys have always taken pride in having the overwhelming majority of players attend the "voluntary" workouts. They build incentives into the contracts to make sure it happens, and Orton, for instance, could lose up to $70,000 for not attending. In the past, players such as Mike Jenkins, who choose to go their own way, often wind up leaving the team that year.

All this does not mean that Orton is headed out the door. But it may be an indication that he is not as committed to playing this year as his employers would like. It does not mean that this is any surprise to the team, however, because it is all part of a general rule that must be remembered this time of year.

This does need a slight correction. Instead of "THE DRAFT", it should really read "EVERYTHING".

Simply put, nothing that is said by any member of the Cowboys staff or front office can be taken without applying a modicum of skepticism. And by "modicum", I mean "whole heaping boatload". If Orton has made clear that he plans to retire, there is nothing to be gained by admitting it prior to the draft. The team has already signed Brandon Weeden to one of the lowest risk contracts possible. You have to wonder if he would have been so willing to come on board with absolutely nothing guaranteed if he had known he might be the de facto number 2 quarterback going into camp. And Dallas certainly would not want to announce loudly to the world that it might be a tad more interested in drafting a quarterback than most people would assume if Orton was still going to be with the team.

While the statements coming out of the team may be deliberately misleading, the fact that Orton did not show up carries its own message. It is not unambiguous, since he may be there tomorrow with some perfectly honest and innocent explanation, like needing another day to get the neckbeard cut back or something. But it does appear that there might be a disconnect between the announced intent to have Kyle a key part of the team and what is actually happening.

And this could totally change our perception of what the team is going to do in the draft. Please note, this is highly unlikely to be any surprise to the people working on the draft board, who almost certainly have a very good idea of just how likely it is that Orton will spend the coming season kicked back on a beach somewhere rather than preparing to go in for Tony Romo. But we, who have only been obsessing on the draft since, oh, five seconds after Orton threw the interception that ended the season without playoffs yet again, now have to realize that quarterback may be a bit more of a priority than we realized. It seems unlikely that the Cowboys would go into training camp with Weeden as essentially the only option at backup.

We won't know for sure until either the draft, or some more information drops on just what is going on with Orton. But the speculation will certainly be turned up a notch or two.

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