When I last discussed the possibility of extending Brock Osweiler, I expressed a difficulty in doing so because there was scant precedent for a player in his situation–a quarterback with several years in the league but hardly enough playing time to know on what side of the wide divide of starting quarterbacks his pay should reside.
Last week, we got what could be the closest comparable possible. Nick Foles, who not only entered the league the same year as Osweiler, but was also his in-state college rival, signed an extension with the Rams. I’ve been waiting on the details to come out before I comment on what this means for Osweiler, and they finally came out earlier this afternoon via Aaron Wilson and Jason La Canfora on Twitter. You can find the full table from OTC beyond the fold.
Foles’s contract contains two key features that I felt would be appropriate for Osweiler. The first is an extension length of two years, to assure that both the team and player aren’t locked into inappropriate value in the long term. The second is the presence of a void year in 2017 in the case that the player outplays his deal, thus earning the right to negotiate for the very lucrative starting quarterback tier.
But there is a third aspect (and it’s the most important one) that I did not project for Osweiler, and that’s the actual money that Foles got. $12 million in guaranteed money, $12.25 million APY, and $24.5M in new money is no joke. That puts Foles right on the bottom of that top tier of quarterback pay, and if you ignore the outliers of Tom Brady and the #1 or #2 overall selections in recent drafts, there is a $7M APY gap between Foles and the fearsome Texans duo of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. It’s also a far cry from the $4.75M APY, $5M guaranteed, and $14.25M in new money that I proposed for Osweiler–and some feedback suggested I may have been too generous to Osweiler.
Now, to be sure, Foles does have more evidence of his play than Osweiler. (Any quarterback that scores 7 touchdowns against the Raiders will always have a place in my heart.) So it’ll be very difficult for Osweiler’s agent to justify a contract with the value on the level of Foles. But you also have to consider whether teams who are starved for quarterback talent will be willing to pay more than what the Broncos offer. If you’re a team who really needs an upgrade at that position, yet you’re also not in a position to get one of the top rookies in the draft, Osweiler may be as good as you’re going to get in free agency.
As it stands now, the Broncos aren’t going to have a lot of cap navigation for 2016. Figure about $15 million when additional transactions and carryover from 2015 are factored in, and that’s just enough for tagging Von Miller if necessary. We’ve long discussed ways for that to improve (Peyton Manning retires, DeMarcus Ware, Ryan Clady, and even Aqib Talib being cap casualties). The Broncos may have to use more creative mechanisms mortgaging future cap years, a technique they’re not generally accustomed to using.
But as uncomfortable as it will be to hear, there is a nonzero chance that the Broncos’ quarterback situation could be decimated in 2016 if Manning retires and Osweiler is able to walk. Getting some extension in the books for Osweiler would indemnify against that. Let’s hope the Foles deal doesn’t disrupt that action beyond feasibility.