While Peyton Manning‘s retirement is the story of the day, and rightfully so, it’s far from the only thing going on in the NFL this lovely March Monday.
Today, at 12:00 ET, the NFL’s “legal tampering window” — A.K.A. the time before the official start of free agency where teams, players and agents can discuss the framework of a contract — will begin. That means that teams around the league will be able to talk with every Broncos free agent not named Von Miller, potentially pulling them away from Denver’s grasp.
Along with Malik Jackson, the most important of those free agents is clearly Brock Osweiler, whom the organization believes is their heir apparent to Manning. It was reported over the weekend that John Elway offered Osweiler over $45 million in the next three years, and that, apparently, has not changed.
As of last night, source says #Broncos had not upped offer to Brock Osweiler in effort to sign, prevent negotiations with other teams today
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) March 7, 2016
And according to Mike Klis of 9NEWS, Osweiler and his agent will take full advantage of those negotiations.
“The one team that may pose the most serious threat for Osweiler’s services is the Houston Texans,” Klis wrote Sunday night. “Houston is expected to contact Jimmy Sexton, Osweiler’s agent, during the tampering period that begins at 11 a.m. Monday.”
The Texans have the means and motivation, too. In each of the last two seasons, as a fringe playoff contender, Houston has been thwarted by their quarterback position. With Osweiler, the Texans could finally talk themselves into believing they have a quarterback who can match their defense’s production. And with over $41 million in cap space, compared to Denver’s $27 million (with Manning’s $19 million now coming off the books), they have the cash to outbid the Broncos.
If Houston decides to give Osweiler somewhere in the range of $20 million a year, Elway will be left in a very difficult situation.
Denver’s best hope may be that Osweiler takes a hometown discount to lead the Broncos on a repeat campaign.