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Bills find their veteran backup quarterback in Orton

The Buffalo Bills have signed a veteran quarterback to help secure the position behind starter EJ Manuel.

The Bills on Friday night agreed to terms with free agent Kyle Orton. A source close to the situation told the News the contract is for one year with an option for 2015.

Orton has been in the NFL since 2005, starting for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. He was a backup for the Kansas City Chiefs and spent the past two seasons behind Tony Romo with the Dallas Cowboys.

Orton did not attend training camp with any team after the Cowboys released him in July.

He provides the Bills a veteran presence they haven’t had since Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion last preseason. Kolb missed the entire season.

That left the Bills’ quarterback duties to rookies Manuel and Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis, who previously had started one NFL game. Manuel and Tuel were the only quarterbacks on the roster when they brokered the Orton deal.

Orton has 70 NFL starts. His career record is 35-35, with a 58.5 completion percentage, 83 touchdowns and 59 interceptions.

The Bills cut quarterback Jordan Palmer earlier Friday. Palmer played miserably in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Detroit Lions.

It was the second time in their two years running the team that Bills General Manager Doug Whaley acquired a quarterback right before the preseason finale, coach Doug Marrone gave the newcomer significant snaps and then the Bills cut him.

Matt Leinart, signed four days before last year’s exhibition against the Lions, started anyway. He completed three of his 10 passes for 11 yards with two interceptions and a sack. The Bills cut him the next day.

Palmer, after a single Bills practice, relieved Manuel and played three quarters Thursday night. Palmer completed nine of his 22 attempts for 73 yards with three interceptions and two sacks.

Marrone was asked if using quarterbacks who don’t know the playbook negatively impacts the other players trying to make the team.

“The reality of the situation is that probably occurs,” Marrone said. The second-year NFL head coach conceded a new quarterback throws off an entire offense’s timing.

Marrone also declined after the game to declare any commitment to backup quarterback Jeff Tuel, who did not play Thursday night.


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