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The Bears should sign Kyle Orton

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Kyle Orton was once the Bears' starting quarterback. While he had many shortcomings, he had the team on the verge of the playoffs and ended up being the major chip that allowed the Bears to trade for Jay Cutler. He was released by the Cowboys and, while he may be contemplating retirement, the Bears should try to bring him back.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Long ago, in the dark ages of the Bears' struggles to find a quarterback, they were led by a man named Orton. Orton had a neckbeard that was mighty and he played valiantly. With his questionable arm strength, statuesque speed and tenacious leadership he actually had the Bears on the verge of the playoffs.

Orton was a fan favorite and while his play was unspectacular, his leadership and record (21-12) won over the fans who were tired of the Rex Grossman era. Orton's stat line as a Bear is actually pretty bad (55.3% pass completion, 30 TDs, 27 INTs and 5,319 yards in 33 games between 2005 and 2008).

While he was starting Orton had the "game manager" label; most fans thought that the team could win with him if they had a solid defense and better playmakers. Orton had the Bears on the verge of the playoffs in 2008 before coming up short in Week 17 against the Texans.

He still holds the franchise record for most passes completed without an interception (205 in 2008). His ultimate contribution to the team, though, was being the chip that allowed them to trade for Jay Cutler. While the team hasn't gotten much further with Cutler than they might have with Orton, Cutler has a way better skillset than Orton ever had.

One of the major concerns for the Bears heading into this season is that the backup quarterback position appears so much weaker than it was last year with Josh McCown. Everyone seems to hold to the idea that it's not a matter of if Cutler is injured but when.

Cutler has missed a game or two (or five) in recent seasons, so planning for a back up to play a few times isn't a bad idea. Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen raise plenty of concerns as number twos.

Enter Orton.

As Brad Biggs writes, the Bears have been open to bringing Orton back to Chicago in recent years. In 2011 they put a waiver claim in on him and that offseason they tried to sign him before bringing in Jason Campbell.

Orton has played in Chicago and would be familiar with the organization, despite the regime change since he left. He has the skillset and smarts to fit in with coach Marc Trestman's system and, after being in Dallas for a couple of years, he is likely to be comfortable in a back up role.

A Kyle Orton reunion would allow Bears fans to dust off their No. 18 jerseys and solidify the team's depth at the most important position on the field. Orton could decide to play for the Bears because, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, he's from Iowa and would be closer to home.

So, hopefully the Bears give his agent a call (the agent who also represents Clausen and Palmer) and see if he could be swayed to come back to Chicago before he decides to hang it up for good. Plus, who wouldn't want to pad their 401k with a salary in the low-$1 million range?