LOS ANGELES: The Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos are without a starting quarterback after Brock Osweiler agreed terms on a free-agent move to the Houston Texans, two days after superstar Peyton Manning retired.
Osweiler, heir apparent to Manning in Denver, could complete the deal with the Texans on Wednesday, multiple US media outlets reported.
Houston owner Bob McNair had voiced a desire for his team to find stability at quarterback after a playoff loss in 2015 in which starting signal-caller Brian Hoyer was intercepted four times and lost a fumble.
Osweiler was a second-round pick of Denver in 2012 and started seven games, all in 2015, with Manning dealing with a foot injury and a drop in form.
Manning regained the starting job for the post-season.
Osweiler, 25, drafted and developed by Broncos vice president John Elway—a former Super Bowl winning quarterback—made $660,000 last season and was reportedly offered about $16 million per year by the Broncos.
ESPN reported his four-year deal with Houston is worth $18 million per year.
Elway said he had no regrets and would start looking immediately to fill the key position.
“We’ve stayed true to our philosophy of building a team with players who want to be Denver Broncos and want to be here,” Elway said.
“While we did offer a very competitive and fair long-term contract to Brock, we ultimately had to remain disciplined while continuing to assemble a roster that can compete for championships.”
Speculation immediately began as to where the Broncos would look for a quarterback, with NFL Network saying they had their eye on the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, whose agents last month requested permission to seek a trade.
There was plenty of other transaction movement on Wednesday, officially the first day of the new NFL year.
The San Diego Chargers re-signed tight end Antonio Gates — who was to have become an unrestricted free agent — and added receiver Travis Benjamin in a move that delighted quarterback Philip Rivers, who had virtually run out of receivers to throw to at the end of San Diego’s injury-plagued season.
“He is very versatile and I think he will fit right in as another guy to spread the ball around to,” Rivers said of Benjamin. “His punt returns are awesome.”
In addition to landing Osweiler, the Texans reportedly agreed a four-year deal with former Dolphins running back Lamar Miller.
The Dolphins also let go of defensive end Olivier Vernon, who agreed terms with the New York Giants on a five-year, $85-million contract that will make him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league.
Vernon’s move was part of a spending spree by the Giants, who also landed top cornerback Janoris Jenkins and nose tackle Damon Harrison.
The Giants hope those moves will improve a defense that finished last in total yards allowed and pass defense last season.