When the Buffalo Bills drafted E.J. Manuel with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, they thought that they were getting their quarterback of the future. And he didn’t perform too badly after throwing for 1,972 yards, 11 TD’s and 9 INT’s during a 10-game rookie campaign.
However, Manuel hasn’t looked good in the preseason. He especially did poorly in the team’s third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Manuel was 9-for-18 passing with just 67 yards, one interception and a lost fumble in the first half. He came back strong in the third quarter by going 10-for-10 with 131 yards. But was this enough to instill confidence in him to the Bills organization?
Based on how Buffalo signed Kyle Orton to a two-year deal worth $11 million, it doesn’t seem likely. The deal includes a $3 million signing bonus and an option for the second year. With the $5 million that Orton is guaranteed in 2014, he now becomes the league’s highest-paid backup.
Of course, the Bills aren’t coming right out and saying that they’re worried about Manuel, or that Orton will likely start some games. Instead, coach Doug Marrone is pretty veiled about the matter. He says that the quarterback situation has improved and the team targeted Orton “very early” in free agency. “It’s better,” Marrone told Syracuse.com. “Kyle is much better for us. He’s an experienced veteran. He’s what we were looking for and we were fortunate to get him.”
Marrone was merely expressing his joy over shoring up the backup QB position. However, one could easily think that his words apply to the starting position as well. This is especially the case when you consider what Orton recently said to the media. “The more you’re around you just get that feeling that you’ve got the right fit,” he said. “I didn’t really think of many other places. When this opportunity arose, I jumped at it.”
Orton certainly didn’t think that Dallas was the “right fit” this past offseason. After backing up Tony Romo for two years, he chose to skip the Cowboys offseason training program. Orton did talk to the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, about playing for Dallas. However, Jones explained that the Cowboys remained committed to making new-signing Brandon Weeden their primary backup.
After being fined for skipping workouts, Orton was finally released by the Cowboys – thus putting him out in free agency. Following interest from several teams, the Bills finally proved the most-attractive destination with their generous offer.
As for if Orton will start any time soon, he doesn’t appear to be thinking about this matter. “My role on the team is a backup and to be ready to play whenever I need to be,” the 31-year-old said. “Job number one is to help E.J. and that’s what I plan to do.”
We at GTBets.eu, however, think that Orton will be helping Manuel to a bench role. The latter suffered three knee injuries last season and isn’t playing well right now. Plus, the Bills are up for sale and should be sold later this year. So the current coaching staff needs to win now and give the new owners reason to keep them around. Assuming Manuel gets off to a bad start, Orton is another option that gives the Bills a chance to win.