Everybody Wants Kyle Orton To Be Rich

Kyle Orton is blowing up.

Every week, almost regardless of outcome, he has taken a step toward legitimacy. Think of it as the Continuum of Kyle Orton: On one side is "Legitmately Good Quarterback." On the other is "Rex Grossman." Orton started all the way over on the Grossman side, just to the right of that fabled failure. Every game, he's slowly moved over toward the LGQ side, every week ending with people scratching their heads. Is he really this good?

Turns out, he just may be. If he can keep it up, Orton is set to make big bucks in the offseason, the product of both the Bears incessant uncertainty at quarterback and his sudden playmaking ability. Orton will get his ... if he can keep it up.

If you needed a sign that the quarterback's status is at an all-time high, look at our local papers today. Unwittingly, the Sun-Times and the Tribune wrote basically the exact same stories this morning: Give Orton the money now.

Tribune writer David Haugh: Orton's consistency through seven games has provided enough evidence for the organization to play the hunch that he's that guy. That franchise quarterback, if you will. If you agree with that premise, then you see why the Bears must make restructuring Orton's contract a top priority to keep him in town beyond the 2009 season. [...] In light of that reality, Orton took a bigger financial risk in signing the contract extension than the Bears did. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $620,000 next season, and he surrendered a shot at big free agent money next winter for the chance to secure a small raise and compete with Rex Grossman over the summer.

If making a larger, longer commitment to Orton represents the Bears' top off-season priority, as it should, then the off week gives them an opportunity to get a head start on that process. It would provide Orton and the Bears security and answer questions now that eventually will be asked next winter.

Sun-Times scribe Brad Biggs: More likely, it's time to start talking about the future as Orton continues to emerge as someone the Bears want to have around for a long time. He signed a one-year extension through 2009 in the offseason, and in keeping with the team's policy of rewarding its own, it would be smart to start laying the groundwork toward locking him up long term. In an article during his rookie season, Orton -- who quickly picked up on the franchise's history at quarterback -- remarked how he knew the city was starved for a winning passer.

Of course, just because people write it doesn't make it so. (Though, to his credit, Haugh's argument makes both good business and personal sense for the Bears and Orton.) But if ever there was a sign that Kyle Orton is gaining stature in Chicago, this is it: The people with all the ink thinks Orton deserves his own.

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