How Rivers’ Extension Really Affects The Broncos

My Broncos preseason opener thoughts will be shared during my Midweek Musings later this week, but today, I wanted to briefly discuss a move made by an AFC West rival that may have an impact on what the Broncos do during the offseason.

That move was the San Diego Chargers signing Phillip Rivers to a four-year extension.

The Rivers extension means another quarterback who would have become a free agent in 2016, is now off the market. Throw in what Nick has previously discussed about the contract extension for Nick Foles and the Broncos might find themselves in a tougher situation when it comes to a decision about Brock Osweiler, not in terms of money, but in terms of other QBs who will become free agents in 2016.

With Rivers extended, these are the most notable QBs whose contracts expire after this season.

* Eli Manning: I would find it hard to believe that the Giants will let Eli hit free agency, even if they don’t make the playoffs this year. They might opt to use the franchise tag on him before talking about an extension, but the chances of him hitting the open market are slim.

* Sam Bradford: He has missed multiple games with injuries, but if he stays healthy and plays well this season, it’s hard to see the Eagles letting him walk after they gave up a couple of draft picks for him. If he misses time with injuries or struggles, certainly the Eagles would let him walk, but then he’s not an attractive option for QB-needy teams.

* Kirk Cousins: We’ve seen him in limited action and he’s had mixed results. Because Washington picked up the option year on Robert Griffin III’s rookie deal, it would not be surprising to see Cousins hit the market in 2016. He’s not likely to cash in, but I could see a team give him a contract that guarantees him a sizable salary for one year, but allows them to get out after a year if he struggles.

* Matt Cassel: I think we all know Cassel’s ceiling at this point is as a backup who can provide competition for a younger player.

After that, you have the likes of Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Daniel, Matt Hasselbeck… well, as you can see, it’s not an attractive group of players.

If we are to assume that Eli and Bradford sign extensions, then you have a market filled with career backups or aging starters who are best suited as backups. That leaves Cousins and one other young passer: Brock Osweiler.

QB-needy teams who aren’t convinced they can get somebody they like throught the draft will be tempted to take a chance on any young passer who has seen little regular-season action but who they might consider to have a high ceiling. That makes Osweiler an attractive option.

Again, I wouldn’t expect a team to throw a massive deal his way. But even if Von Miller agrees to an extension before the 2016 free agency period begins, there is no way the Broncos use the franchise tag on Osweiler. That means, unless he is extended before 2016 FA, he’s going to hit the open market and is likely to find suitors.

And unless teams like Buffalo, the New York Jets, Cleveland and Houston decide one of their younger QBs can be the long-term starter (and in at least a couple of cases, the chances of that happening are slim), there will be teams willing to take a chance on Osweiler, particularly if they have to draft in the middle of the first round and aren’t sure there’s a QB available who is worth trading up to get. And considering that two of those teams (Buffalo and Houston) were in the playoff hunt in the final weeks of 2014, and one was hovering around .500 (Cleveland), it’s not like Osweiler would necessarily join a team that’s rebuilding.

So with Rivers signed to an extension, Eli likely to be a Giant next year, and Bradford sure to be an Eagle if he performs well, it becomes easier to see that Elway may have to get Osweiler extended before the season ends, especially if Osweiler keeps playing like he did in the preseason opener. It may not be something Elway necessarily wants to do, but does he really want to risk losing Osweiler to another team who truly does fit the description of “a QB away from making the playoffs”?

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Bob Morris

I'm a sports writer in real life, though I've always focused on smaller communities, but that hasn't stopped me from learning more about some of the ins and outs of the NFL. You can follow me on Twitter @BobMorrisSports if you can put up with updates on the high school sports teams I cover.