In this week's edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, Sports Illustrated's Peter King brought up an interesting scenario: how different would things be today in the NFL had the trade deadline extension been implemented last season instead of this upcoming season? (Note: the change in 2012 has not been officially confirmed yet, but it seems likely to be approved).
In King's "butterfly effect," everything could have changed because of one player: Kyle Orton.
The situation: Indianapolis coaxed Kerry Collins out of retirement in August, when Peyton Manning was having neck problems. Collins was the Colts' starter until he got a concussion in Week 3 against Pittsburgh, with Curtis Painter the backup. When Collins got concussed, the Colts signed Dan Orlovsky off the street. Painter started and the Colts hoped Collins would recover to take the starting job back. But after Week 7, with Collins' concussion symptoms lingering, the Colts cut him. By that time, with no trades possible, the Colts had to go with what they had, or pick up another body off the street.
"I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us,'' said Bill Polian, the Colts president until owner Jim Irsay fired him in January. "We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn't great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who'd gone to [Tim] Tebow by then, and said, 'Hey, we'll give you a three [a third-round draft choice] for Orton.' ''
King then goes on to say that a source from the Broncos informed them that they would have accepted that trade (no kidding...a third-round pick for Orton, who was placed on waivers later in the season?)
If Orton ended up with Indianapolis, King and Polian predict that Indianapolis would have finished with a 4-12 record, giving them the fourth overall pick in the draft. They would have kept Peyton Manning in anticipation of two of the three teams ahead of them -- St. Louis at No. 1, Minnesota at No. 2, and Cleveland at No. 3 -- taking Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. Washington probably would have moved into the mix still, but in this scenario, it seems as though it would have been inevitable for Cleveland to end up with either Luck or Griffin.
Would a Week 8 trade deadline...and Kyle Frickin' Orton....have really changed the future of the NFL as much as King and Polian imply? It's hard to believe, but you never know.