Cowboys release Kyle Orton, take salary-cap hit as a result

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18) leaves the field after a 22-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

The Dallas Cowboys finally came to the realization that Kyle Orton wasn't walking through that door.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Orton, due a salary that would have earned him $3.25 million, has been released. The Cowboys made the official announcement on Wednesday.

But why?

The Cowboys now will take a prorated portion of his $5 million signing bonus as a salary-cap hit this season of more than $1 million this season and more than $2 million next season.

And get this ... the Cowboys might have lost any chance to go after any of the bonus money that was paid out to him in 2012 under the assumption that he would play. Had they waited it out and just let Orton retire, they could have gone after more than $3 million that they already had paid him.

Very odd. More is likely to come on this story, but for now Brandon Weeden figures to be Tony Romo's backup, and undrafted Dustin Vaughan has a much better chance of making the Cowboys' 53-man roster now, although former Chicago Bears QB Caleb Hanie also is in the mix.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!