Bills front office readjusts in wake of Orton retirement

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The news of QB Kyle Orton's retirement came as a shock to his teammates and coaches as much as it did the Bills fan base.

Orton made his announcement late Monday morning but without much fanfare – he broke the news behind closed doors away from the cameras and reporters.

The front office, his head coach and most of his teammates didn't know he was going to call it a career.

"I was surprised he told us this morning," GM Doug Whaley said in a post-season press conference. "We had no inclination that he was thinking of making that decision at this time or down the road. That was surprising as for the future that's what the evaluation process is for. We'll start looking at that right after this meeting."

Head coach Doug Marrone said he was equally surprised.

WR Robert Woods told the media that he heard the news right after was released. He also mentioned that while he wasn't surprised by the news, he didn't expect it.

"I probably knew it was coming because he is an older player, but capable of playing," Woods said. "He talked about here and there joking around saying, 'It's my last go round guys.' But that was about it."

RB Fred Jackson said the same that he found out when everyone else did and that if it was going to happen, he didn't expect it so soon.

Jackson also axed any rumor that Orton had checked out before the season ended.

"(Orton) came to work and prepared every day just as hard as he did in the beginning," he said. "To think he had already clocked out that's not even in my mind. I watched how he worked and prepared every day and he did everything he could to prepare to win."

From Purdue to Buffalo, check out these photos of Bills quarterback Kyle Orton.

The news also opens up the conversations for who will be under center in 2015. Orton had a player-opt clause in his contract that many people wondered if he would take but now the attention has flipped back to EJ Manuel and Jeff Tuel.

Whaley said that he and Marrone will evaluate Manuel and the position this off season and with a 'fine tooth comb'. He added that, by sheer numbers, they'll have to add one or two quarterbacks to the roster.

As for the personnel who are already here, they are excited.

"EJ and I are ready to go," said Tuel, who signed a futures contract after spending the 2014 season on the practice squad. "We learned a lot under Kyle. We go into this offseason hungry and we're going to come back ready to work and take this team under our wing and do whatever we have to do to win more ball games and go to the playoffs. We're ready for whatever is asked of us to do what we need to do."

"It's one of those things where everything is going to be evaluated in the offseason anyway," Jackson added. "I can't say it's a setback or that it helps us. It's one of those things where everything is going to be evaluated anyway. It's just another step in the evaluation."

Woods said that right now he is planning on Manuel being the guy. He mentioned that EJ is playing with more confidence and that if he, does end up with the spot in 2015, the offense will be much different.

Orton's veteran presence has been a theme since Week 5 when he was given the reigns and following the retirement notice, it remains as one of the most critical things he brought to the offense.

"Obviously he's a guy that did some things for us this year," Jackson said. "Stepped in and play a major role in what we accomplished."

Woods added that Orton really helped the Bills receivers, who is one of the younger corps in the league, and that the players learned all they could from him.

However the news broke, it was Orton's decision, and the Bills players are respecting that space.

It was surprising, however, Tuel said it best with just how unexpected everything in the league can be:

"You never know. It's football. It's sports. Just ask Brett Favre."

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