Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

The unreal timeline of Brock Osweiler’s departure and return to the Broncos

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 3, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Brock Osweiler is a Denver Bronco.

18 months ago this statement would not only have been logical, it was expected. After starting seven games with Denver in 2015, on their run to being crowned Super Bowl 50 champions, Osweiler was the Broncos’ quarterback of the future.

That was until he shocked the world, most notably John Elway, and bounced town to sign with the Houston Texans before the Broncos could make him their franchise quarterback.

Almost exactly a year and a half later, Brock is back with his original team under much different circumstances and after a very, very strange journey.

It all started Mar. 20, 2012 with the most notable free agent signing in NFL history; Peyton Manning inked a five-year, $96 million deal to become a Bronco. Meanwhile, Osweiler was in his final year at Arizona State, and although he wasn’t a Bronco yet, this move had significant importance in Brock’s journey.

Over a month after Manning’s introductory press conference when Elway notably said, “We’re going Plan A” when asked what the team’s backup plan to Peyton was, Elway addressed the question by drafting the 6-foot-7 quarterback in the second-round, 57th overall, of the 2012 draft, officially making Brock a Bronco.

On Sept. 30, 2012, Osweiler made his NFL debut with a lone kneel down in a 37-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Brock’s anticlimactic NFL debut was reminiscent of things to come during his first stint in Denver.

Two years, and an entire 21 regular season pass attempts later, Osweiler sat in the same position he did during his rookie year: behind a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. Brock only saw the field with the second-string unit during practice—mostly as the scout team quarterback—and when the mighty Broncos were destroying teams. Like seriously destroying.

Heck, even then it was hard for ol’ Brock to see meaningful reps. During a Week 10 matchup with the Oakland Raiders in 2014, the Broncos had a dominating 41-10 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. There was no way Denver was going to blow the game in the final quarter to the then 0-9 Raiders.

Just as Brock grabbed his helmet anticipating to take over the Broncos’ offense, he turned around to run onto the field only to find No. 18 had gone back on the field. A visibility distraught Osweiler to threw his hands in the air, disappointed that he would continue to find himself on the bench, even with a 31-point lead. The five seconds were not only caught on camera during the live game feed, they also went viral.

However, Brock’s luck changed just over a year later during his fourth year in the league. At home against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10, then-Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak did the unthinkable; he benched Peyton Freaking Manning. Osweiler was the man that Kubiak turned to after Manning threw his fourth interception of the game, and while Denver lost 13-29, it was the most notable playing time Brock had up to that point in his career.

The following week, Osweiler made his first career start in place of the injured Manning, his first of seven consecutive starts. No. 17 exceeded all expectations, too, throwing for 250 yards on 74 percent completion with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 127.1 passer rating in a 17-15 victory over the Chicago Bears.

After going 4-2 in his first six starts, Osweiler was Benched for Manning midway through his seventh start after he threw two interceptions in the first half during a much important Week 17 matchup against the San Diego Chargers. Manning led Denver to a 27-20 win, clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC and never looking back. That would end up being the last time Osweiler stepped on the game field as the Broncos’ signal caller.

Although Brock didn’t play in the playoff run, Elway had high praise for his former second-round pick, saying, “He went 5-2 as a starter for us. Without Brock that year, we don’t win a Super Bowl. He had a lot to do with that year.”

On Mar. 7, 2016, a month after the Broncos secured the franchise’s third world championship, Manning officially called it quits from the NFL, holding his retirement press conference in the team room at the Broncos’ headquarters. With capacity maxed out with reporters, family, coaches and numerous teammates, the 14-time Pro Bowler captivated the room, much as he did throughout his entire career.

The most noteworthy absence at the historic event was Manning’s fellow quarterback the previous four years. It only took two days to find out why Osweiler wasn’t present.

On Wednesday, Mar. 9, Osweiler shocked the country, signing a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans seemingly out of nowhere, choosing the Texans over the Broncos’ offer of $16 million per year to stay in Denver. Brock chose to sign with a team where he hadn’t met the head coach in person, leaving Denver with only one quarterback on its roster: Trevor Siemian.

Despite being burned in the national spotlight, Elway said there were no hard feelings between he and Osweiler, adding, “When Brock made that decision he made the best decision that he thought was best for him.”

As Denver moved on—eventually drafting Paxton Lynch in the first-round of the 2016 draft and acquiring Mark Sanchez in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles—Osweiler settled in with his new team. So much so in fact, he skipped the Broncos’ trip to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl 50 championship with President Barack Obama and then missed the team’s private ring ceremony, citing a scheduling conflict as the Texans had OTAs around the time of both events.

On Sept. 11, 2016—one year before Denver’s opening game of the 2017 season—Osweiler made his first start with his new team, throwing for 231 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for an 89.1 passer rating in a 23-14 victory over the Bears. Brock’s luck wouldn’t last nearly as long as his four-year contract, however.

14 starts into his Texans career, he was benched in favor for then-backup Tom Savage after throwing two interceptions on 48 passing yards. Savage would be named the starter the following week for Houston’s regular season finale, but after suffering an injury early in the game, Osweiler was called to step in.

Much like he did in a relief role in Denver, Osweiler was solid—throwing for 253 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He would keep his starting role for Houston’s two playoff games as Savage was out due to injury. Osweiler finished his first, and only, year in Houston 8-6 as a starter with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

On Mar. 9, 2017, exactly one year after signing with the Texans for $37 million guaranteed, Osweiler was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Houston gave Cleveland Osweiler and a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for the Browns 2017 fourth-round compensatory pick, essentially doing everything they could to get Osweiler out of Houston.

Months later on Aug. 26, during Denver’s third preseason game, Broncos’ backup quarterback Lynch sustained a shoulder sprain to his throwing arm, sidelining him for multiple weeks, extending into the regular season. Lynch’s injury left Denver with only one healthy quarterback behind starter Siemian: undrafted rookie free agent Kyle Sloter.

The following day in Cleveland, Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson named rookie second-round pick DeShone Kizer their starting quarterback for 2017 season, officially ending Osweiler’s chances of winning the starting job. Osweiler finished the preseason 12-for-22 for 67 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a 41.3 passer rating in his two games with the Browns.

Desperately needing a backup quarterback with a veteran presence and experience in the NFL, according to Elway, the Broncos’ were forced to look outside of their building for a backup quarterback.

Days later, on Sept. 1, Cleveland ended Brock’s short stint with the team, cutting the 26-year old even while still owing him $16 million guaranteed for the season, a contract they took on in the trade with Houston.

On Saturday, Sept. 2, the Broncos cut undrafted free agent and fan favorite Kyle Sloter to leave only one healthy quarterback on their roster, Siemian, opening the door for a possible Broncos—Osweiler reunion.

As dusk hit the relatively empty UCHealth Training Center Saturday night, the two sides did just that, bringing Brock back to where he started, in the same role as he was in originally when he first joined the team: as a backup quarterback.

“It’s just kind of funny how these things worked out with our situation and Brock being available—funny how everything aligned,” Elway said. “We know that Brock can win football games with us, he’s got a lot of experience, and that was one glaring hole we had at that time in my mind when Paxton hurt the shoulder. We’re able to get it fixed… Brock made the most sense for us.”

With the nod of approval from Elway, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy—who coached Osweiler in 2012 during his rookie season—and current Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, offensive coordinator to Osweiler in Denver, who “loves Brock,” the Broncos made the call.

Brock Osweiler’s past year and a half is the perfect example of just how much can change in the NFL in 18 short, or very, very long months. With $37 million more in the bank, however, it hasn’t been entirely bad.

“I’m sure it’s been a tough one for him. I know that obviously, we thought a lot of Brock,” Elway—the former quarterback that only played with one team in his entire NFL career—said. “I’m sure it’s probably been a long 18 months for him. He’s been through a lot, I’m sure. I haven’t had a chance to spend a lot of time or speak to him.”

As Brock reunites with the team that brought him into the league seven years ago, it will be a homecoming for the ages, surrounded by familiar faces and an emotion not typically associated with NFL franchises: love.

“I’m sure with everything he went through in Houston and then going to Cleveland; I’m sure he’s going to need a little football rehab. We know that,” Elway said. “We’ll welcome him with open arms and give him some love.”


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?