And, according to a source close to the team, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland made Orton not only a priority - but the priority. In the days after the NFL opened for business again, Ireland and the Broncos engaged in lengthy discussions about a deal that would have sent Orton to South Florida.
But after Miami acquired Bush, the deal for Orton quickly fell apart. The Broncos apparently wanted more in return for Orton than what Miami was likely willing to give up —likely at least a second-round draft pick. That was one issue.
Another was that Orton might have commanded too much, too. Orton is set to make a little less than $9 million — the final year of his contract in Denver. It's possible he wanted an extension similar to the kind of the monster deal Arizona reportedly gave former Philadelphia backup quarterback Kevin Kolb. He reportedly received a contract worth $63 million.
While the Orton deal died — it's likely officially dead now — the Dolphins signed former Carolina quarterback Matt Moore. Both Ireland and Sparano knew Moore from his brief stint in Dallas, where he impressed during the 2007 preseason as an undrafted rookie out of Oregon State.
The Cowboys' plan then was to waive Moore and then re-sign him to the practice squad. But Carolina claimed him off waivers. Moore's 2010 season was a disaster — filled with injuries and poor production on the worst team in the league. But he won four of the five games he started in 2009 and posted a 98.5 passer rating that season.
Sparano is a fan of Moore, dating to the time to two shared in Dallas, where Sparano was an assistant.
"Matt was really a guy who had a tremendous training camp for us," Sparano said. "Really a surprise at the time. Undrafted free agent and played really well ... I watched that kid compete in a pretty high level during that training camp against some pretty good players and we really at the time wanted him to stay around."
As unpopular as he might be with a fan base that's starving for the Dolphins to become relevant once again in the long term, Chad Henne is undoubtedly still the Dolphins' No. 1 quarterback. Even so, Moore enters the Dolphins' camp in Davie with the hope of winning the starting job.
"I am going to come in and compete," he said. "That's how it's going to be. That's how it is everywhere. As of right now ... I'm learning. I am going to come in and make all of the throws and make all of the right reads and we will see what happens."