Denver found Orton's market to be disappointingly lukewarm when it placed the six-year pro on the trading block immediately after the NFL lifted its summer- long freeze on player movement last week. Arizona showed mild interest, though it was no certainly no secret of its preference for the more expensive (and less credentialed, mind you) Kevin Kolb. Tennessee and Minnesota, both seeking battle-tested bridges to rookie first-round picks, targeted Matt Hasselbeck and a discounted Donovan McNabb right out of the chute. And Seattle and Washington chose to go the cheap route for now, presumably with an eye on landing one of the prized members of a bonanza quarterback crop in the 2012 draft.

That left Miami as the lone entrant in a one-horse race, but a reluctance to meet the Broncos' asking price as well as Orton's own wishes on a contract extension eventually caused those talks to stall. And while a potential deal between the teams isn't dead, it's now less likely after the Dolphins switched gears and signed Carolina retread Matt Moore to back up the erratic Chad Henne.

As a result of Miami's holdup, the Broncos were unable to make any major moves in free agency (and no, a past-his-prime Willis McGahee doesn't qualify as an impact acquisition). Denver couldn't get in on the bidding for defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Brandon Mebane, either of whom would have helped shore up a barren position, and had to settle on the declining McGahee as a sidekick to running back Knowshon Moreno after losing out on the younger and more explosive DeAngelo Williams.

Orton himself didn't particularly aid in the process, seeming content to play out the year on his current salary before taking his chances as a free agent, where it's possible he could be one of the more desirable quarterbacks of the 2012 class.

In the meantime, he'll spend an undetermined amount of time in a sort of football purgatory, with the Broncos doubtful to cut Orton after paying out a $1.5 million roster bonus last week and just as unlikely to find a trade partner unless a team suffers a prominent quarterback injury in the preseason.

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