Published March 15, 2010
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos aren't publicly saying they have another open quarterback competition on their hands.
They don't have to.
Josh McDaniels' actions and the words of Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton show they most certainly do.
Quinn, acquired from the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in exchange for fullback Peyton Hillis and two draft picks, was diplomatic in his introductory teleconference Monday, declining to come right out and say he intends to supplant Orton as the starter.
A day after Orton said he was confident he was still the starter, Quinn made it clear he intends to be under center and not sending in signals when the 2010 season starts in six months.
"I'll put it this way, I think every quarterback on our roster wants to play," Quinn said. "Believe me, whether it's Tom (Brandstater), Kyle, or myself, we're all quarterbacks. We're going to be team players first, but we all want to be out there playing."
McDaniels hasn't spoken publicly since the trade. Asked if McDaniels had promised him a chance to fight for the starting job, Quinn demurred.
"Really, those conversations are private at this point," he said. "But I think all of us quarterbacks are going to be working our best to compete with one another and make each other better."
That group won't include Chris Simms, last year's backup who was jettisoned Monday.
When Orton was acquired in the Jay Cutler trade last April, McDaniels threw open the competition for the starting job and Orton emerged the winner by late June.
He guided Denver to a 6-2 start but a 2-6 finish left them out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Afterward, McDaniels endorsed Orton's status as his starter, saying, "I'm pleased with a lot of what Kyle did and I saw improvement in what he did. I was happy to have the opportunity to work with him this year and we'll look forward to the future."
Then, McDaniels' actions spoke just as loudly Sunday when he traded for Quinn.
Quinn passed his physical on Monday — he finished last season on injured reserve with a severely sprained left foot — and began participating in the team's offseason training program.
Orton, meanwhile, was in Hawaii, where he's attending the NFL players association meetings as the Broncos' union representative. His commitment there won't allow him to show up in Denver until Friday.
Quinn said he was thankful for a fresh start in Denver.
In three up-and-down seasons in Cleveland, he played in 14 games and started a dozen times after the Browns selected him No. 22 overall in the 2007 draft following a stellar career at Notre Dame.
Quinn started nine games for the Browns last season, sharing time once again with Derek Anderson. He suffered his foot injury on Dec. 20 against Kansas City and finished the year on IR for the second straight season (he had a broken finger on his right hand in 2008).
Quinn is due $700,000 this season and next, although his salary will go up considerably if he wins the starting job.
Orton was tendered for one year at $2.621 million. As a restricted free agent, any team signing him to an offer sheet would have to be willing to forfeit a first-round draft pick to Denver, an almost prohibitive cost for a quarterback with middling statistics like Orton's.
Simms, who played in two games last season, was set to make $2.54 million next season.
Quinn said he hadn't had a chance to go over the playbook yet, but he anticipated there would be a lot of crossover from the offense he ran in college for Charlie Weis and the one McDaniels runs in Denver. Both are proteges of Bill Belichick.
Quinn lost to Denver in each of the last two seasons. He said he saw vast improvement in Denver's defense last season but the thing that impressed him the most was the Broncos' offensive line.
Ryan Harris protected his Quinn's blindside in college. Now, he's the Broncos' right tackle with All-Pro Ryan Clady playing the left side.
"I think you've just got to be excited to have that type of talent in front of you," said Quinn, hopeful he'll get to admire this line from up-close next season.