To paraphrase our own illustrious O.C.C., stuff just got serious. Kyle Orton did not show up for his physical Monday, which is required before the start of the Dallas Cowboys minicamp. As a result, he was fined $10,930.
The conventional wisdom about Orton was that he would show up as soon as it could begin to cost him money. The conventional wisdom would appear to wrong.
This is just the beginning of the possible financial hits he could take. According to the ESPN article linked above, he is going to lose more money, even if he does eventually suit up for Dallas.
If he does not show up for Tuesday's first day of minicamp, he would face a fine of $11,575. If he misses all three days of the minicamp, the maximum fine is $69,455.
If he decides to play, Orton's base salary will already be docked $75,000 because of a de-escalator in his contract for missing too many workouts.
He was scheduled to make $3.25 million in base salary this season. With the potential fines and de-escalator, Orton's base salary is roughly $3.09 million.
If he fails to report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., he would be subject to a daily fine of $30,000, per the collective bargaining agreement.
This is looking more and more like an outright, if undeclared, holdout for Orton. If he is willing to take the first day's fine, it is pretty likely he is going to swallow the whole cost of missing minicamp. What is at stake here is the $3.4 million he would have to repay the team if he was to retire. Just by sitting things out, he loses a little (at least in terms of NFL salary, even if it is more than a year's income for most of us), but keeps a lot.
Since Orton has remained silent on all this, his actual motives are uncertain, but there seem to be three possibilities. Some speculate that Orton actually wants to stay with Dallas if they will pay him more. This theory holds that he thinks he is more valuable to the team than $3 million and change because of Tony Romo's back issues. There is also a thought that he wants to go somewhere else and compete for a starting job, and is doing this to force the team to release him so he can pursue that chance. The third is that he is serious about walking away from the game, and it is cheaper for him to just ride it out and force the team to cut him, thereby keeping that $3.4 million.
The first option would seem to be a nonstarter for Dallas. It is highly doubtful that the team would share his opinion of his own worth, especially with higher priority players to take care of like Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, and possibly DeMarco Murray. Any extra money spent on Orton would just limit the ability to work out something with them. It also means that there is no real likelihood of extending Orton past this season. Additionally, the team has Brandon Weeden on the roster at the approximate cost of dirt, and indications are that everyone is pleasantly surprised by his performance.
Whether anyone would want to trade for Orton is hard to say, given that he is not exactly showing himself to be a hard-working, team oriented player right now. If he is cut, however, he might be able to get that shot at becoming a starter. Even if no one is interested in him going into training camp, the odds are that some team is going to lose their starting quarterback at one point in the season, and Orton may be the best option as an emergency replacement available this year. If he really wants a shot to be the starter somewhere, then sitting and waiting for the team to cut him is not a horrible strategy.
And if he truly is ready to leave the game, then he pretty much has done so. He can keep the money paid to him just by forcing the team's hand. Fines, after all, come from his salary, and if he plans to make no more money, the fines really will just go away.
Now the Cowboys have given up their expectations that Orton will show at all for minicamp. The official line was always that he would show up rather than be fined. That is now obviously not enough incentive. The team may be best served to go ahead and cut ties now, since Orton's seems to be showing that he has no intention of playing for Dallas again.
Yep. It just got real.