Brock Osweiler, whose quarterback relief work in 2015 put the Broncos in position to win Super Bowl 50, is retiring as an NFL player.
“I’m extremely grateful for the time I did receive playing in the National Football League,’’ Osweiler said in a phone interview Wednesday with 9News. “The experiences I did have, people I did meet, relationships I did make -- I’m not going to dwell on the things that didn’t happen in my career.
“Being a kid from Kalispell, Montana, playing for the Denver Broncos, winning a Super Bowl, having the opportunity to sign a second contract – when you look back on it, I couldn’t be more appreciative. It was great.”
Osweiler’s most enduring legacy in his seven-year career, at least with the Broncos, was when he came off the bench to relieve an injured Peyton Manning in the second half of the 2015 season and posted a 5-2 record that lifted Denver not only to the AFC West Division title, but the No. 1 conference playoff seed.
“Brock was a great teammate,’’ said cornerback Chris Harris Jr., one of the Broncos’ few remaining stars from that 2015 Super Bowl team. “He was so huge for us in our Super Bowl run with how well he played when Peyton was injured. There is no way we get to that Super Bowl without Brock.’’
Manning would replace Osweiler in the second half of the last regular-season game against the San Diego Chargers – even though Osweiler had completed 13 of 21 for 222 yards with a touchdown in the first half – and finish out the Broncos’ successful postseason run.
But history will validate Harris’ testimony: Had it not been for Osweiler’s work in his seven 2015 starts, the Broncos would not have been in position to capture Super Bowl 50.
“That 2015 season is something that is very special,’’ Osweiler said. “The coaches, the players, they mean the world to me. I was thankful to have had the opportunity to play the role I did but that was the ultimate team deal. There was a ton of talent on that football team, but I would say we were the closest of all teams in the National Football league. Our culture was beyond anything that can ever be created. It was so genuine, so real that I think any coach or player on that team would have done anything for anybody in that building that year.”
Osweiler entered the 2012 NFL draft after his true junior season at Arizona State and was selected in the second round by the Broncos and general manager John Elway. To those who say the Broncos should have selected Russell Wilson, who was taken in the third round that year and is still enjoying a great career with the Seattle Seahawks, understand Wilson would have also sat 3 ½ years on the bench behind Manning.
Although Wilson got a chance to play right away, Osweiler said he received long-lasting life benefits from serving as Manning’s backup.
“What was so great about those first three years is that’s when I learned how to study,’’ Osweiler said. “That’s when I learned how to take advantage of a great opportunity to learn from maybe the best quarterback mentally to ever play the game. I took great pride in being one of the first guys in the building, studying all night and being prepared for my teammates just in case I needed to go into a ballgame.
“Looking back on it, it was difficult not playing. As a competitor you want to be on the field. But I wouldn’t trade those three years for anything because they taught me how to work and work hard behind the scenes. I think those are some values that will carry me throughout the rest of my life.”
Manning retired after the 2015 season as Osweiler became a free agent. The Broncos tried to bring Osweiler back as their starting quarterback, but they fell short of the four-year, $72 million offer – with two years and $36 million fully guaranteed -- he received from the Houston Texans.
“It was extremely unfortunate we were not able to come to a deal in Denver because I absolutely love that organization, love that city,’’ Osweiler said. “But that’s the business side and how things work out. As far as my time in Houston, it was a learning experience that will carry me through the rest of my life.’’
With a bigger paycheck came raised expectations. Although Osweiler led the Texans to the AFC South Division title and first-round playoff win in his first year as a full-time NFL starting quarterback in 2016, Osweiler was traded to Cleveland after that season.
“There were so many learning moments throughout that year,’’ he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there were hard, trying moments. But the lessons I learned coming out of the season is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve always been a glass half-full guy. The things I will take from that season is I made relationships that will last the rest of my life. I had tremendous teammates. We won a division championship and we won a playoff game.’’
Osweiler was cut by Cleveland after their 2017 preseason and re-signed with the Broncos to serve as Trevor Siemian’s backup. Osweiler played arguably the best game of his career that year when he replaced the injured Siemian with the Broncos down 10-0 at Indianapolis and rallied the Broncos to a 25-13 win. Osweiler ran for an 18-yard touchdown and threw a perfect, 54-yard scoring pass to Jeff Heuerman while compiling a near-perfect 147.7 passer rating.
“When Erin and I and Blake was a little baby, and our two dogs flew back into Denver after I got cut from Cleveland, that was maybe one of the happier moments of my career,’’ Osweiler said. “It was like we were home. My love for that city and the Broncos -- I was always going to be prepared because I never wanted to let them down.”
Osweiler reunited with former Broncos’ offensive coordinator Adam Gase in Miami last year. Finding out the day of the game he would get is first start of the season against Vic Fangio’s top-ranked Chicago Bears’ defense, Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win. The Bears went on to a 12-4 record while Osweiler started the next week against the Detroit Lions and threw for 239 yards and two more touchdowns without an interception.
“I thought I played some pretty good football last year considering the circumstances,’’ Osweiler said. “Kind of assumed there would be a decent offer in the offseason, whether that was to be a backup for a young starter or possibly compete for a job. Something like that. Free agency came around and there was nothing.
“Strange deal. I’m 28. Never had a surgery. I feel like I’m two, three years away from really reaching my prime mentally. You get around a good coach like I was last year with Dowell Loggains -- my mechanics were good and it led to good play. It’s just one of those deals.”
Since August, Osweiler received serious interest from Atlanta, Indianapolis and the New York Jets and while he did want to continue playing, he was looking for a full-season commitment. With no more calls coming in the last three or four weeks, Osweiler has decided to call it a playing career.
He and his wife Erin live in Scottsdale, Arizona and they are expecting a baby sister for daughter Blake next month.
“Just weighing some options for the next phase of life,’’ Osweiler said. “It’s all good. I’m kind of taking this year to see what shakes out. Otherwise, just playing some golf, seeing some people I haven’t been able to see in a few years. Just want to see what’s available.
“I have my health. I have the ring. There’s a lot of things I still wanted to accomplish. And I have a lot more left in the tank. But, hey, sometimes you don’t get that opportunity. And given that, it’s all good. ’’
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