Joe Mahoney, Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kyle Orton's departure now includes a return trip to Denver.
A day after the Broncos waived their former starter, the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up, along with the roughly $2.6 million left on his contract that expires after this season.
Orton and his new team will travel to Denver for the season finale on Jan. 1.
Tim Tebow supplanted Orton after a 1-4 start and has gone 4-1 to help the Broncos climb back into the AFC West race, a game behind Oakland.
Orton has a chance to go to a place where he could wind up with the starting job, especially with Matt Cassel undergoing season-ending hand surgery and his replacement, Tyler Palko, throwing three interceptions in a loss to New England on Monday night that dropped the Chiefs to 4-6.
"Good for him. Congratulations to him," Tebow said upon hearing the news Wednesday that Orton was staying in the division. "That will be fun to play him the last game of the year."
The fact Orton might return to Mile High on the opposing sideline was a risk the Broncos were willing to take. With quite a few teams in the market for a quarterback, the Broncos realized they were dangling quite a catch out there. They did so partly because they wanted to get the balance of Orton's nearly $9 million deal off the books even though they lost the compensatory draft pick they would have received had he stayed in Denver for another six weeks.
The Broncos decided to let Orton get a fresh start somewhere else rather than stand on the sideline in Denver, where Brady Quinn had been bumped up to No. 2 on the depth chart.
"It's all amicable. We've just moving on," general manager Brian Xanders said. "We feel good about our quarterbacks."
Rookie Adam Weber might be promoted off Denver's practice squad, but coach John Fox said he's in no hurry to fill Orton's roster spot.
"Obviously, Kyle, as I've said many times, he has handled this as well as any player I've ever been around," Fox said. "He's handled it with class, was a true pro. I think he deserves an opportunity. All in all, I think it was good for both parties, and wish nothing but the best for him."
Orton began his Denver career in memorable fashion after being acquired in the 2009 trade that sent Jay Cutler to Chicago. Orton won his first six starts with Denver before going 6-21 and being replaced by an unorthodox quarterback who has been constantly criticized for his flawed mechanics.
After a 45-10 loss to the Lions on Oct. 30, the Broncos went about altering their offense to fit Tebow's game, implementing the read option he honed at Florida to take advantage of his unique skill set.
And while some believe that way isn't sustainable, that defenses will eventually figure it out, the Broncos certainly aren't quibbling with the immediate results. The Broncos have rattled off three straight wins heading into their trip to San Diego on Sunday.
"We love his competitive toughness, his ability to keep fighting and rally the offense at the end there," Xanders said. "He's got some improving to do, in terms of passing, but everybody comes into this league not as an All-Pro. You've got to come in and develop your skills."
Tebow is winning games, but is he winning over the Broncos' brass? John Elway, chief of football operations, made waves this week by saying he's not sold on Tebow as the long-term answer at quarterback.
"I like winning," Xanders said. "Winning is a lot better than the alternative. We're going to keep working with him."
When Orton was released, the Broncos figured a team on their upcoming schedule could wind up with him, either the Chiefs or the Bears, who visit Denver on Dec. 11.
Former Colorado State quarterback Caleb Hanie is the starter in Chicago now that Cutler is out indefinitely after breaking the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.
The Chiefs saw to it that the Broncos' weren't entirely in Orton's rearview mirror just yet.
Notes: DBs David Bruton (Achilles) and Cassius Vaughn (hamstring) and TE Daniel Fells (concussion) were limited in practice Wednesday. ... LB Von Miller leads all rookies with 9½ sacks.
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