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The Orton Effect: How Kyle Orton's retirement impacted the Bills

Orton's sudden retirement at the end of the 2014 season may have a lasting effect on the Bills.

Kyle Orton grabbed his wallet and never returned. 

The Buffalo Bills finished the 2014 season at 9-7. Their season ended with Orton and the Bills defeating the Patriots in a game that saw New England play many backups in the second half. It was a meaningless game for New England, but the victory gave the Bills their first winning season since 2004.

One season later, it’s interesting to look at the trickle-down effect that Orton’s sudden retirement had on the Bills. If the quarterback had not retired suddenly…

Doug Marrone may not have opted out of his contract

Orton retired on December 29th. On December 31st, then-Bills head coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract. Marrone had an opt out clause in his contract that paid him his 2015 salary in full, so it’s certainly possible that Marrone would have opted out regardless. However, it was Marrone that quickly pulled EJ Manuel from QB after four games and replaced him with Kyle Orton. Orton was Marrone’s QB and if the quarterback had planned on returning in 2015, it’s possible that Marrone would have stayed in Buffalo.

If Marrone had stayed…

Bill Polian may have become Buffalo’s football czar

Polian went back and forth on his decision to work with the Bills, but two factors changed his mind: Kyle Orton retiring and Doug Marrone opting out of his deal.

The former Bills GM said the following on turning down the job offer:

"Then, the quarterback goes away and the coach disappears," Polian said. "So the job, from my perspective, changed. It went from a mentoring and advising role, which would have been fun, to a real heavy lift -- hire a new coach, hire a staff, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."

It was also reported that Marrone called Polian on his way out the door to bash the Bills organization which may have factored into his decision. Polian is a legend in Buffalo for constructing the Super Bowl Bills teams, but the fact that Marrone and Orton factored so heavily in his decision tells you that he probably wasn’t the right man for the job.  

Tyrod Taylor isn’t Buffalo’s starting quarterback

 This one is pretty much a certainty. Rex Ryan played a big role in Buffalo signing Tyrod Taylor. He attempted to trade for the QB during his time with the Jets, and he promised Taylor the opportunity to start.

If Orton didn’t retire, he would have been named Buffalo’s starting quarterback and EJ Manuel would serve as the team’s backup. Simply put, there’d be no place for Taylor. One of the biggest factors that led Taylor to signing with the Bills was that there was an opportunity for him to win the starting job. If Orton stays in Buffalo, Taylor probably signs with the Denver Broncos, a team that offered Taylor more money than Buffalo. If that occurred…

Brock Osweiler may not have signed a 4-year, $72 million deal with $37 million guaranteed

Osweiler cashed in for his seven starts after going 5-2, but there’s no guarantee that the quarterback even gets that playing time last season. As noted above, Taylor was pursued by the Denver Broncos and the team was supposedly offering the QB decent money.

Gary Kubiak, Denver’s head coach, wanted to bring Taylor with him to the Broncos as the quarterback already had knowledge of his offense. When Peyton Manning went down with an injury, Taylor may have received the opportunity to start over Osweiler.

Do the Broncos go 5-2 with Taylor? Does Taylor play so well that Manning doesn’t come in during the season finale? Do the Broncos win the Super Bowl? These are just a few more questions we could be pondering if Orton had not suddenly retired.

One year later, it’s apparent that Orton’s retirement had an impact on multiple teams, coaches, and players. Although Orton helped lead Buffalo to their first winning season in a decade, it appears that his sudden retirement benefited Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor still needs to prove himself in 2016, but he may be the franchise quarterback the team has been looking for since Jim Kelly retired. If Orton had stayed in Buffalo, the team would still be looking for a franchise signal-caller.


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