March 20, 2016
Welcome to the Osweiler Era
by Bob Hulsey
Finally freed from the shadow of Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler made the best of his short time under center, inking a 4-year contract with the Houston Texans for a reported maximum of $72 million dollars. After a disappointing playoff blowout at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, everyone knew that the only way the 9-7 Texans could improve would be to find a better signal-caller.
Osweiler was a second-round choice of the Denver Broncos in 2012 but, for his first three seasons, saw just 13 games and threw just 30 passes as Manning's backup. 2015 was a different story as Osweiler (pronounced "OSS-why-lur") started seven games for an injured Manning and went 5-2 over that time. He had a 61.8% completion rate, threw for 10 touchdowns and six interceptions while being sacked 23 times.
For such a limited sample, the question remains. "Is he the next Matt Flynn or the next Aaron Rodgers"? The truth probably lies somewhere in between. At 6-7, Osweiler looks gangly and awkward but runs well and has the arm to make deep throws.
The Idaho native who grew up in Montana and played college ball at Arizona State won't turn 26 years old until November. He's had the benefit of four years learning under Manning and John Elway, two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, though he still appears to have trouble reading blitzes.
It's up to Bill O'Brien, another developer of quarterbacks, to smooth out the rough edges and help Osweiler lead the Texans to the next level.
As free agency began, the Texans went all-in on Osweiler while adding veteran running back Lamar Miller (4 years. $26 million). He has run for almost 3,000 yards over four seasons and had his best game as a pro last season against Houston when he lit up the Texans defense for 236 combined yards and two touchdowns.
A hidden plus for the former Miami Hurricane is that he has fumbled just five times in over 750 NFL touches and only once last season. At 5-11 and 215 pounds, he's slightly small by NFL standards so backs like Alfred Blue will likely continue to see action.
Offensive linemen Jeff Allen (4 years, $28 million) and Tony Bergstrom (2 years, $5.7 million) were also signed from Kansas City and Oakland, respectively.
The Texans released running back Arian Foster while losing linemen Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks to free agency. The Texans also released safety Rahim Moore and tight end Garrett Graham. The future of quarterback Brian Hoyer remains uncertain as he could be released or traded. Numerous other Texans are free agents, including defensive end Jared Crick and cornerback A.J. Bouye.
The Texans have an estimated $10 million left of cap space and will need to include their draft choices with that but they will add or re-sign some free agents to round out their roster before the April draft. Who they might choose with the 22nd overall pick in the draft is now an open question with their quarterback needs met. It would not be a surprise to see them trade out of the first round if it will give them more chances to add depth.
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