VIEW SLIDESHOW OF KYLE ORTON
"I spoke with Kyle earlier [on Tuesday] and thanked him for everything he did for the Broncos," head coach John Fox said. "He was a true professional throughout this season. I've got a great deal of respect for him as both a player and as a person."
The 29-year-old seventh-year veteran from Purdue lost his starting job after going 1-4. He hasn't played since the first half against San Diego on Oct. 9. His replacement, Tim Tebow, is 4-1.
Orton decisively outplayed Tebow in training camp but faltered when the regular season started, throwing seven interceptions.
"This was the right decision for our football team," Fox said. "We feel good about our quaterback group, and this gives Kyle an opportunity to help another team and showcase his talents."
It is unknown at this time where Orton will be going next.
"Kyle is going to have more options in the NFL," John Elway, executive vice president of football operations, said. "He'll get an opportunity to play somewhere else, and we wish him the best of luck."
Orton will be subject to waivers. If a team claims him, it will have to pay what remains of his $9 million salary. If he's not claimed, he'll become a free agent. Several teams, including contenders Chicago and Houston, could use a veteran QB.
Orton was acquired last year in the Jay Cutler trade with the Bears and won his first six starts in Denver before going 6-21 and losing his starting job.
9NEWS spoke with Kyle Orton about Fox about his decision to bench him back in October.
"He's the coach, and he makes the decisions," Orton told 9NEWS in October.
Orton was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2005 after a successful career at Purdue. The Bears traded Orton to the Broncos in 2009 so they could acquire Jay Cutler from the Broncos.
In late September, after a few dissappointing games, Fox told 9NEWS that he was sticking with Kyle Orton as his starting quarterback despite an awful performance by the offense in the Broncos' 23-20 loss to Oakland on Monday night that ended with fans chanting "Tebow! Tebow!" as players trudged off the field.
Orton misfired on almost half of his 46 passes during the Raiders game and was picked off once and fumbled the ball away without getting hit when his tight end was open in the end zone for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
Fox said there was plenty of blame to go around.
"We came up a little short. There were plenty of reasons why. It wasn't just the quarterback by any stretch," Fox said. "Kyle is our starting quarterback and I don't think too many guys are firing all their guys because their team happened to lose in Week 1."
Orton had a terrific training camp and nearly perfect preseason but things looked a lot like last year in the opener: stalling in the red zone, no ground game to keep the defense from coming after the quarterback and a poor pocket of protection that resulted in five sacks and two turnovers.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)