Former Broncos QB Brock Osweiler Wishes he Hadn't Listened to Agents & Ignored Elway's Calls
Hindsight is always 20/20. Be that as it may, Brock Osweiler can't look back at how he handled the events that led to his defection to the Houston Texans in 2016 with any emotion besides regret.
Sure, the Texans showed Osweiler the money. And the difference between what the Denver Broncos were offering and what he eventually got from the Texans was sizable but in the final analysis, was that $3 million per year difference ultimately worth it? The former NFL quarterback took the money but regrets what it cost him.
It cost him the opportunity to become the Broncos' franchise quarterback and perhaps even the chance to win a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback of the team who drafted him. Instead, after Osweiler's defection, the Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch and rolled with the second-year Trevor Siemian in 2016 in the team's effort to defend their title.
Even with that inexperienced QB room, the Broncos won nine games in Gary Kubiak's last year as head coach, mostly due to a Herculean effort from the team's two Pro Bowl wideouts to cover the deficiencies of Siemian and Lynch — Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — and that ferocious defense that returned nine of 11 Super Bowl starters.
Meanwhile, Osweiler took the money and despite leading the Texans to a modestly successful 2016 season in which Houston won the AFC South, his clash with head coach Bill O'Brien resulted in Osweiler being dealt to the Cleveland Browns in the spring of 2017 along with a second-round pick, just to clear him off the Texans' books and start from scratch at quarterback. Osweiler didn't even make it to September football with the Browns, who cut him on the doorstep of the season.
In an excellent piece by SI's Greg Bishop, Osweiler, who announced his retirement last October, ruminated on how things ended with the Broncos in 2016, even though he'd be reunited for a brief run in 2017 playing on the veteran minimum. Osweiler's regret over listening to his agents more than his gut still haunts him.
For weeks, Elway didn’t call. Kubiak did, telling him, “Dude, I know you’re our guy,” and “I want to coach you for a long time.” The quarterback’s agents eventually told him not to answer any call from Elway after a certain cutoff date near the start of free agency. Osweiler wishes he hadn’t listened. While out at dinner one night, he saw Elway’s number blink across his home screen. His thumb lingered over the “talk” button, but he let it go. Elway left a message, saying he wanted to come to Scottsdale and talk. He sent an offer to CAA: three years, $39 million.
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The Texans' offer was four years, $72 million with a whopping $37 million guaranteed. Osweiler took it and jumped into his new football environs with both feet, even choosing to skip the Broncos' trip to the White House as Super Bowl champs so as not to miss even a day of Texans' OTAs.
But if he could go back in time, Osweiler would do it differently.
“I wouldn’t even have picked up John’s call,” Osweiler told Bishop. “I would have called John two weeks before that and told him, Listen I want to be a Bronco until I die. If you want me, let’s get this done.”
The deal would have gotten done and who knows how history might have unfolded for Osweiler and the Broncos. I've long maintained that had Osweiler not defected to Houston, and would he have taken his rightful place as the Broncos' franchise quarterback and successor to Peyton Manning, his career trajectory would have been completely different.
Instead of staying home and having the full faith and support of the organization who not only drafted him, but whom he helped win a Super Bowl in 2015, Osweiler stepped out into the NFL wilderness. But he did so with a lot more money in his bank account.
Still, he would have gotten most of that same money had he accepted Elway's three-year, $39M offer. And he wouldn't have had to cut ties with the coaches and teammates he'd bonded with and built trust with — and won with — to become the new guy in a new city with new faces across the board.
Osweiler eventually returned to Denver as a reclamation project in 2017 but by then, after all the tumult he'd been through emotionally, he wasn't the same guy. And the Broncos weren't the same team. That ship, as it were, had sailed.
I'll always wonder what could have happened had Osweiler accepted that offer and stayed in Denver. And from the sounds of it, that regret still haunts Osweiler today, despite the $41M in salary he made in the NFL and the beautiful young family he has in Arizona.