The Denver Broncos have been grooming Brock Osweiler to be Peyton Manning's successor for years, but now that Manning has retired is there a chance they might have just been getting him ready to sign with another team?
It's been assumed that Osweiler, a 2012 second-round pick who went 5-2 in seven starts in place of Manning last season, would step right in as Denver's starting quarterback if Manning retired. But there's the little matter of the open market awaiting him when NFL free agency begins Wednesday.
It turns out the Broncos aren't the only team with their eyes on making Osweiler their starting quarterback.
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Denver and Houston shape up as the two primary potential landing spots for free-agent QB Brock Osweiler.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2016
NFL Media has reported that the Broncos have offered the 25-year-old Osweiler a three-year contract worth up to $45 million but that Osweiler will not accept it since he would not be able to renegotiate if he excels in 2016. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport adds that the Houston Texans are viewed as a legitimate threat to compete with Denver for Osweiler's services.
Houston shuffled among Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden as starters last season and will be looking for an upgrade in free agency or possibly with the 22nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
It's worth noting that the last two quarterbacks to sign -- Sam Bradford with the Eagles ($17.5 million per year for two years) and Kirk Cousins with the Redskins ($19.95 million on a franchise tag) -- are both being paid more than what the Broncos are reportedly offering Osweiler. Osweiler doesn't have the track record of those two QBs, but a bidding war between the Broncos and Texans could force his price closer to that range.