The Houston Texans reached an agreement Wednesday with former Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler on a four-year, $72 million deal, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. Rand Getlin of NFL Network first reported the agreement was in place.
Mark Berman of Fox 26 reported Osweiler's contract includes $37 million guaranteed. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted the deal contains all of its guaranteed money in the first two years, with $21 million guaranteed next season and $16 million guaranteed in 2017.
Albert Breer of NFL Network put the deal into context:
Albert Breer @AlbertBreer
Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh is the only non-QB with a higher APY than new Texans QB Brock Osweiler.2016-3-9 20:58:35
Osweiler discussed the move upon his arrival in Houston, via Berman:
Mark Berman @MarkBermanFox26
Brock Osweiler arrives in Houston ready to help the #Texans win a Super Bowl Championship https://t.co/lQZTEWqTiE2016-3-10 03:05:29
He also took to Instagram to thank the fans in Denver:
"Coming to Houston was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up," Osweiler said on Thursday via Tania Ganguli of ESPN. "What I see with this football team is something special. I believe this organization is on the cusp of doing something great. That's something I want to be a part of. I'm very excited to be here and just get to work."
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported Denver's offer was over $16 million per year with $30 million guaranteed. However, James Palmer of NFL Network noted Osweiler was distant in negotiations and made it clear he didn't want to return to the Broncos.
Mike Klis of 9 News reported Denver "figured Brock Osweiler didn't want to come back when he stopped returning phone calls to coaches [and] some teammates" over the past couple of weeks.
Former teammate Malik Jackson told reporters Osweiler's late-season benching left a "bad taste" in the quarterback's mouth, and noted he wasn't surprised he left.
"We’ve stayed true to our philosophy, building [with] players who want to be here," said general manager John Elway.
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins reacted to the deal:
Kirk Cousins @KirkCousins8
@bosweiler17 YOU LIKE THAT! Happy for ya!2016-3-9 20:45:03
The Broncos drafted Osweiler, 25, in the second round in 2012. The Arizona State product proceeded to see limited action during his first three seasons while sitting behind Peyton Manning on the depth chart.
Denver selected him early as an insurance policy for the aging legend while hoping he could take the reins whenever Manning stepped aside. Of course, No. 18 performed at a high level and continued to push the timetable back as a result.
Osweiler told Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com during last season's training camp that he understood the situation.
"It's something that I've thought about ever since I've been drafted," Osweiler said. "You grow up dreaming of playing in the National Football League. Just to have the opportunity to be here—obviously, you want to be out on the field playing—but as you all know, I came into a very special situation."
The 6'8" signal-caller finally got his chance to take a lead role in the offense this past season when a noticeably struggling Manning got sidelined by foot and rib injuries.
Osweiler shone at times, including a performance against the Chicago Bears that saw him complete 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. For the most part, however, he endured the typical up-and-down moments of a young quarterback with limited experience.
That allowed Manning to make a triumphant return in Week 17. Although the battle-tested veteran didn't look like the five-time MVP of years past, he still managed to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl title by limiting the mistakes that plagued him earlier in the season.
The situation forced Osweiler back to the sideline. He admitted leading up to the championship game that he wanted to "be out there playing on Super Bowl Sunday," as noted by Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. But like he has every step of the way, he once again handled a tricky situation quite well, adding, "I want to be out there with my teammates, trying to win a world championship. But at the end of the day, as long as this team wins, I’ll be happy, regardless.”
After the Super Bowl 50 victory, the Broncos' front office didn't have much time to celebrate the championship, though. Between Manning's uncertain future and Osweiler's expiring contract, the team had to make some quick decisions about how to move forward.
Ultimately, Denver opted against using the franchise tag on the Idaho native, which allowed him to hit the free-agent market. He surveyed the options and decided it was time to take on a new challenge.
He'll immediately have a starting role in Houston. It previously appeared the Texans would be forced to choose between Brian Hoyer and Tom Savage for the starting job. Now those two signal-callers will likely battle for the backup job instead.
Houston ranked third in total defense last season, which was enough to push it to an AFC South title and a playoff appearance. The team hopes Osweiler can jump-start the offense, which ranked 19th, and make the Texans a championship contender.
Having a true No. 1 target such as DeAndre Hopkins is a major help. But the Texans still need more playmakers on the offensive side, especially in the backfield. That now figures to become a key focus for the rest of the offseason.
As for the Broncos, Osweiler's exit leaves the franchise without a long-term solution at the most important position on the field. Manning's retirement means they will now begin a frantic search to fill the void in the short term while the championship window is potentially open.
Osweiler has the arm to make all the throws, but his accuracy and decision-making must improve in 2016 and beyond. Perhaps the change of scenery will allow him to find a comfort zone he was never quite afforded in Denver, letting him showcase his full potential.