WEDNESDAY, 10:21am: The Cowboys have officially announced Orton’s release, per Brian McIntyre (via Twitter).
Orton, 31, had strongly indicated throughout the offseason that his preference was to end his playing career, but the Cowboys hoped he’d return for the 2014 season as Tony Romo‘s backup. The situation led to an impasse, with Orton refusing to report to spring workouts and practices, while the Cowboys kept him on the roster in the hopes of pushing him to either report or to officially retire, at which point the team could attempt to recoup some of his bonus money.
Now that Dallas has opted to release the veteran signal-caller, the club will no longer be able to recover any of Orton’s signing bonus — however, the team is at least off the hook for his 2014 base salary of $3.25MM. Of the $3.383MM in dead money remaining on Orton’s deal, which ran through 2016, $1.128MM will apply to this year’s cap, with the remainder hitting the 2015 books. As such, the team creates a little additional cap flexibility this year, which could come in handy for additional signings or extensions for players like Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith.
Orton, who has spent time with the Bears, Broncos, Chiefs, and Cowboys, is now free to formally retire, and presumably won’t attempt to catch on with another club in time for the 2014 season. If he doesn’t play another snap in the NFL, the Purdue alum will finish his career having compiled more than 15,000 passing yards to go along with 83 touchdowns in 75 total contests (70 starts).
As for the Cowboys, they’ll turn to Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie as potential backup options behind Romo. The club will also have an open spot on its 90-man roster, which could be used on another QB or any other free agent.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.