ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The quarterback quandary in Denver is over. Not so the competition.
Kyle Orton and Chris Simms have been told they have to earn the right to replace Jay Cutler, who was traded to Chicago last weekend, ending a six-week soap opera that began when the Pro Bowl passer decided he didn’t want to play for new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.
On Monday, Orton, acquired from the Bears, and Simms, a free agent signing, met with the Denver media for the first time. They each said all the right things after a winter in which Cutler said all the wrong things — or in the case of not returning the Broncos’ phone calls, nothing at all.
Orton and Simms said it was a thrill to work for the man who helped Tom Brady and Matt Cassel thrive in New England. They professed indifference to the fact McDaniels might draft a quarterback later this month. And they welcomed the competition for the starting job.
“That’s the only thing I’ve ever asked for in my career,” said Orton, a veteran of so many dueling-quarterback dramas with Rex Grossman in Chicago. “If you get that, that’s all you can really hope for. Chris is a good quarterback, smart player, he’s won a lot of football games himself.
“So, we’ll have a good quarterback on the field.”
Simms said the notion he might also be vying for the starting job with a rookie who’s not even on the roster yet doesn’t bother him.
“To be a quarterback in this league, you’ve got to have thick skin and be able to let things roll off your shoulders,” Simms suggested.
Cutler’s inability or unwillingness to embrace that philosophy is precisely what led to his departure. Cutler became disenchanted in Denver when he learned the team had talked about trading him.
So the Broncos sent him to Chicago along with a fifth-round draft pick for Orton, two first-rounders and a third-rounder.