KUSA - The Denver Broncos’ priority is unmistakable. They want to make Brock Osweiler their starting quarterback in 2016 and beyond.
Of course, commitment to a player in the salary cap/free agent NFL economy is always measured in dollars.
The Broncos have offered Osweiler a three-year contract proposal that is worth more than $45 million, NFL sources told 9NEWS. Osweiler can become an unrestricted free agent at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The market begins with a “soft” opening Monday where free agents can talk to other teams to gage interest and their value.
Meanwhile, the Broncos will get an update on the future of veteran Peyton Manning either Monday or Tuesday. Manning is expected to either announce his retirement or reveal he wants to keep his options open for a while longer.
If Manning remains undecided, the Broncos are expected to make a procedural move that would release them from his 2016 salary of $19 million that is scheduled to become fully guaranteed on Wednesday.
Regardless of Manning’s decision, the Broncos are trying to reel in Osweiler. The Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and possibly the New York Jets are among the few teams that need a quarterback and could be interested in talking to Osweiler’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, on Monday, when the free-agent “tampering window” opens.
The Broncos’ $45 million-plus package includes incentives. Typically, some incentives are more makeable than others. It’s not known how much of the package is fully guaranteed, but still the offer could be deemed strong considering Osweiler has but seven NFL starts.
Still, Osweiler was impressive in those seven starts, especially during clutch regular-season wins against New England and Cincinnati that were instrumental in giving the Broncos’ home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs.
Osweiler was the 12th-ranked passer in the final seven weeks of the regular season with an 87.8 passer rating based off 9 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions and 1,821 passing yards. The Broncos won five of Osweiler's seven starts.
He showed enough athleticism, poise, decision-making and ability to perform in bad weather to project as a good fit in head coach Gary Kubiak’s offensive system that is built on running the ball and mobile passing game.
And the quarterback market is rising as evidenced by the extensions received last week by Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco.
It might be a stretch, though, to say Osweiler has comparable value to those quarterbacks, who are far more established.
The closest comparison to Osweiler is Nick Foles who has the 22nd richest contracts among the 22 starting quarterbacks who have progressed beyond their rookie deals.
The 21st-highest-paid starting quarterback is Andy Dalton, who had 30 wins and 80 touchdown passes before he received his extension that pays $16 million a year.
Even Foles was far more accomplished with a 14-4 record and 40 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions in the two seasons before he got his two-year, $24.54 million extension with the Rams.
Yet the Broncos non-incentive annual average offer to Osweiler is more than Foles’ $12.27 million average, according to sources. With incentives, Osweiler would have a chance to approach Dalton’s average.
As free agency approaches, the Broncos are also hoping to re-sign defensive end Malik Jackson and work out reduced contracts for outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and left tackle Ryan Clady.
Other Bronco free agent players will hit the free-agent market when it opens next week, a group that includes inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, running back Ronnie Hillman, offensive guard Evan Mathis, offensive tackles Ryan Harris and Tyler Polumbus, safety David Bruton Jr., tight end Vernon Davis, receivers Andre Caldwell and Jordan Norwood, and defensive back/returner Omar Bolden.