Rosenthal pointed out earlier today that John Clayton of ESPN has said that quarterback Kyle Orton is trying to make it known that he wouldn’t report to the Chiefs, if the Chiefs claim him on waivers.
But Orton really has no say in the matter. He signed a contract, and under league rules his contract must pass through the waivers process.
There would be consequences if he refuses to play for the Chiefs or any other team. For starters, he’d forfeit the balance of his $4.5 million salary in 2011. Also, he’d be subject to an attack on any remaining signing bonus allocation for 2011.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Orton could jeopardize his shot at free agency in 2012.
As best we currently understand the rules, the Chiefs would be able to send Orton a five-day letter, if he doesn’t show. And if within five days after getting the letter he still doesn’t arrive, the Chiefs can put him on the reserve/left squad list, which would shut Orton down for the rest of the year.
The biggest question is whether his contract would toll. Though players must show up by Week 10 to get credit for a contract year, the rules are a little fuzzier when it comes to guys who walk out in lieu of holding out.
These are all questions Orton needs to answer before deciding to breach his contract, since he needs to understand all aspects of the worst-case scenario. And any team that is tempted to claim Orton simply to keep him from landing in Chicago should be considering these questions as well, given the chance that the Bears could be blocked from getting Orton without the new team incurring a single cent, if Orton is serious about not showing up.