Denver Broncos: Brock Osweiler may have cost the team a franchise QB

Sayre Bedinger
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 14: Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 14, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 14: Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos looks to pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 14, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos and quarterback Brock Osweiler did not split on good terms in 2016. How did his departure cause the Broncos to miss on franchise QBs?

Former Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler has retired from the NFL.

Broncos fans owe Osweiler a debt of gratitude, as his contributions to the 2015 Super Bowl team were invaluable. At the same time, Broncos fans can rightfully blame Osweiler for the team’s current quarterback purgatory situation.

Obviously when dealing with hypothetical situations, it’s tough to say that every situation would have been the same if just one domino had fallen a different way, but hypothetically speaking, Osweiler’s decision to spurn John Elway and the Broncos in 2016 cost the team a shot at Patrick Mahomes and/or DeShaun Watson the following year.

Why? How?

Let’s roll it all the way back to 2012 for a moment.

Osweiler was hand-picked by the Broncos’ front office to be the heir-apparent to Peyton Manning, who had signed just over a month prior to his being drafted.

The Broncos had signed Manning to a five-year contract, and Osweiler’s rookie deal was for four.

Coming out of Arizona State, it was clear that Osweiler needed some work on polishing his game, and although his waiting took longer than many young quarterbacks picked in the first two rounds of the draft nowadays, Osweiler got a chance to start some critically important games for the Broncos in 2015, including three straight games in November in Chicago, at home against the Patriots, and on the road against the Chargers.

The Broncos also won the final two starts Osweiler made in the 2015 regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals and at home against the Chargers, although Peyton Manning came in to save the day against the Chargers after the offense was turnover plagued in the first half.

Osweiler, not entirely at fault for the turnovers, was apparently miffed about being benched and put his disdain on ice until after the Broncos had won the Super Bowl.

Osweiler’s stable and even sometimes clutch play helped the Broncos secure a number one seed in the playoffs, which was key to them making it to and ultimately winning the Super Bowl.

After the Super Bowl win, it was rumored the Broncos were offering Osweiler a contract north of $15 million per season, which for his contributions and talent level was well north of fair.

Instead of accepting the Broncos’ multi-year offer, Osweiler agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans without ever meeting their coaching staff or front office in person.

I wonder if, in hindsight, he would have done that differently.

Osweiler left Denver, predictably struggled in Houston, and was traded after just one season with the team. The Texans even paid a second-round pick to have the Browns take his contract off their hands.

The Broncos attempted to make a trade for Colin Kaepernick in 2016, and in fact had a deal in place with the 49ers contingent upon Kaepernick signing a renewed contract that would allow Denver to fit him under their cap situation.

Kaepernick had even taken some meetings in John Elway’s home.

It felt like Kaepernick was going to get a second chance in Denver after reaching the Super Bowl just a few years before, but it never happened. He didn’t take the pay cut the Broncos offered, and Denver was left in scramble mode.

They traded a late pick for Mark Sanchez (who didn’t make the team) and then moved up in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft from pick 31 overall to the 26th pick to take Paxton Lynch.

Although the Broncos were committed to Lynch for the long-term, they had no obligation to play a raw rookie right away in 2016, and they didn’t. As a matter of fact, Trevor Siemian won an ugly quarterback battle and wound up starting (and winning nine games) for the Broncos in 2016.

Siemian’s ability to keep the team relatively afloat gave him an edge over Lynch the following offseason when the Broncos had to deal with the loss of head coach Gary Kubiak, who stepped down for health reasons.

The decisions the Broncos made in the 2017 offseason ultimately landed us where we are today, about two years behind in a rebuild, and Osweiler is partly to thank because of that.

Had Osweiler stuck with the Broncos in 2016 and played well, that’s a whole other can of worms to open up and think about. He was learning under Kubiak the previous season and showed some potential in his starts. Who knows if he could have kept it up with another year in Kubiak’s offense?

Had Osweiler stuck with the Broncos in 2016 and played poorly as he did in Houston, the Broncos could have bit the bullet and moved up in the 2017 NFL Draft for a player like DeShaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes.

With Osweiler on the roster, there is no trade for Paxton Lynch. Heck, the Broncos may have even been the team, in that case, to use a mid-round pick on Dak Prescott in 2016.

I am the type of person who hates thinking with this kind of draft hindsight. No one knows how things would have played out differently under different circumstances, but it’s hard to think that Osweiler staying with the Broncos in 2016 wouldn’t have been the best outcome for all parties, even considering Osweiler’s inability to live up to his lofty status as a highly paid QB.

The pressure in Denver would have just been vastly different for him.

Now, the Broncos have suffered three years with a revolving door at quarterback. Trevor Siemian in 2016, a combination of Siemian, Lynch, and even Osweiler on a second stint with the team in 2017, and Case Keenum in 2018.

In 2019, it’s Joe Flacco’s show. Would anyone be surprised if they change QBs again in 2020? Okay, maybe a few people would, and there’s a lot of football yet to be played in 2019.

The fact of the matter is, Osweiler’s decision to spurn the Broncos in 2016 free agency, in hindsight, has set the Broncos back at least three years, maybe more at the quarterback position.

Next. Stars for the Broncos in win vs. Titans. dark

We’ll always have 2015, though, Brock, and in my eyes that’s a fair trade.