ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. -- The Buffalo Bills made a significant and much needed upgrade to their quarterback position Saturday by signing 31-year-old Kyle Orton, the best available option on the free agent market.
The 10th-year veteran had been released by Dallas in July, and while there were reports that he was going to retire, he was actually weighing his options, and Buffalo is a good landing spot.
He immediately becomes the No. 2 quarterback behind EJ Manuel, a player some feel will never truly be an NFL starter. It is too early for the Bills to quit on Manuel, their first-round draft pick in 2013, but he has not been impressive to date.
It would not be a shock that if Manuel struggles early in the season, Orton gets the chance to start. With a new owner likely in place before the end of this year, this coaching staff and front office know the teams needs to either make the playoffs or at least stay in contention right to the end.
So it can't afford to be too patient with Manuel if he is not producing. Orton is 35-35 as an NFL starter with Chicago, Denver and Kansas City, and has completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 15,019 yards with 83 touchdowns and 59 interceptions.
There weren't many surprises in the Bills' cutdown to 53 players. Punter Brian Moorman, the longest-tenured player on the team dating back to 2001, did not have a good preseason. He was replaced by San Francisco castoff Colton Schmidt.
The Bills cut Moorman early in the 2012 season after he had beaten out Shaun Powell in training camp, and Powell was brought back in. Moorman finished that year with Dallas, but was released after the season, and was then cut by Pittsburgh after the 2013 training camp and was out of work until the Bills brought him back prior to Week 6 when Powell proved to be a flop. Moorman finished 2013 in Buffalo and the team re-signed him in the offseason, but it's clear he doesn't have the same leg.
Wide receiver T.J. Graham, as expected, was let go. The 2012 third-round pick with blazing speed just never adapted to the NFL and couldn't make an impact. Ultimately, he became the stereotype of the track guy who didn't translate on the football field. He needed to have a great camp in order to beat out Marquise Goodwin or Chris Hogan, and he did not do it. In two years with the Bills, Graham caught just 54 passes for 683 yards and three touchdowns.
Guard/center Doug Legursky, who started several games in 2013 after signing with the Bills as a free agent, but did not perform well, could not beat out another veteran who has fallen out of favor, Kraig Urbik. Urbik makes about $2 million more per year than Legursky, so there was a school of thought that Legursky would win the spot, but he simply isn't better than Urbik, or Chris Hairston, who made the team after sitting out all of 2013 with a medical condition. Choosing three offensive linemen in the draft was the first indication that Legursky was in trouble.
The Bills signed seven players to their practice squad that had been cut by the Bills on Saturday. They were quarterback Jeff Tuel, defensive backs Kenny Ladler and Deon Broomfield, linebacker Jimmy Gaines, wide receiver Caleb Holley, and defensive ends Ike Igbinosun and Bryan Johnson. Tuel is essentially the third-string quarterback, but this does not preclude the Bills from further dipping into the free agent quarterback pool. Gaines is a Buffalo native who played collegiately at Miami. Ladler was an interesting player in camp and the Bills liked his nose for the ball, which is why he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt.
Running back C.J. Spiller had been without an agent since his original agent, Gary Wichard, passed away in 2011. But with Spiller heading into the final year of that rookie contract signed in 2010, he hired Chad Speck of Allegiant Athletic Agency. The 27-year-old Spiller would like to get an extension from the Bills, who gave a one-year extension to 33-year-old Fred Jackson last month. But it's uncertain whether the Bills will want to invest big money in Spiller. In three years, he has rushed for 3,021 yards and 12 TDs, and hasn't been as dynamic a force in the passing game as the Bills thought he would be when they drafted him No. 9 overall in 2010
By The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: August 31, 2014 06:20:55 PM
Orton gives Bills a fallback position at QB
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