HOUSTON | The Houston Texans weren’t letting Brock Osweiler escape.
Sure, the Denver Broncos were eager to hold onto the free agent quarterback with Peyton Manning now in retirement. So the Texans had to be super aggressive to get Osweiler.
“As with anything, if there’s more than one person that wants it, it’s probably going to cost you more,” Texans owner Bob McNair said Thursday. “They wanted him … the price kept going up and I think they finally figured out we weren’t going away. We were prepared to do whatever it took to get the deal consummated.”
What it took was to give a man with only seven NFL starts a four-year, $72 million contract, making him one of the league’s highest-paid players.
McNair wasn’t too concerned about the money he had to spend to get Osweiler, and beamed as the pair posed with the QB’s crisp, new No. 17 jersey.
“We just want to get better every day,” McNair said. “Certainly this is a day when we got a lot better.”
Osweiler agreed to leave the Broncos when free agency began despite being the presumed replacement when Manning retired on Monday.
Wearing a red tie and a perfectly tailored suit, Osweiler commanded the room with the ease of a politician. He spent almost four minutes reading a statement in which he thanked the Broncos and virtually every coach he’s ever had.
He said he called Denver general manager John Elway to tell him he planned to sign with the Texans as soon as he decided on Wednesday.
“It was a very difficult decision,” he said of leaving Denver. “In fact it was the most difficult decision of my life. I’m very thankful. I’m very appreciative for everything that the Denver Broncos organization has done for me, but at this point in time in my career, I feel like the Houston Texans give me the best opportunity to be successful.”
The Texans were looking to upgrade after Brian Hoyer’s struggles last season, particularly his turnover-filled performance in their wild-card playoff loss to Kansas City. The Texans, who have a long history of quarterback woes, have never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs.
“Obviously we had a need at the quarterback position,” general manager Rick Smith said. “With the level of success we’ve been able to have over the last few years, we haven’t had consistent play at the quarterback position. We haven’t had consistency at the quarterback position, and we really feel like the move to add Brock gives us that stability, and hopefully that will allow us to advance a little bit further than what we’ve done before.”
Osweiler joins a team with Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was third in the NFL with 1,521 yards receiving last season.
It was clear how Osweiler feels about Hopkins when his name was mentioned on Thursday.
“You can see it in my smile,” he said, adding they’ve already chatted about where they’ll work out together. “It’s very exciting … what DeAndre brings to the game is truly special. To have the opportunity to play with a football player like that, that’s what gets a quarterback out of bed in the morning.”
Houston also added running back Lamar Miller, center Tony Bergstrom and guard Jeff Allen in free agency, and re-signed tackle Chris Clark, punter Shane Lechler and kicker Nick Novak.
Miller replaces franchise rushing leader Arian Foster, who was released after a series of injuries in recent years.
The Texans got a firsthand look at Miller last season when he ran for 175 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown burst, and had a 54-yard TD reception in an embarrassing 44-26 loss to the Dolphins last season. McNair joked he didn’t recognize Miller when he first saw him on Thursday.
“Because I’m so used to looking at his back. That’s all I saw in Miami,” McNair said with a laugh.
Osweiler appeared in eight games with seven starts last season for the Broncos. He threw for 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions last season.
After sitting behind Manning for more than three years, he started the last seven games of the 2015 regular season, but was benched in favor of Manning for the postseason.
He said his benching didn’t factor in his decision to leave Denver and that he had no hard feelings about the move.
“That’s football,” he said. “Guys get … benched, replaced, they get injured, another guy comes in and becomes the starter. That happens all the time. Bottom line is I always want what’s best for the team, and as long as the football team is winning games I’m happy.”
The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Osweiler was drafted in the second round in 2012 out of Arizona State.
Osweiler insists he doesn’t feel any added pressure because of the size of his contract.
“The Houston Texans are already a great football team, nobody needs to come in here and work a miracle,” he said. “I’m just going to try to be the best me I can possibly be to add to this football team.”
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