Enjoy that Super Bowl, Broncos fans, because defending the title just got a whole lot more difficult.
While quarterback play certainly wasn’t a major factor in the team’s Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, the team has taken a hit at the league’s most important position, losing two signal-callers in a matter of days.
On Monday, legendary quarterback Peyton Manning retired to much fanfare. One of the best regular season QBs of all time, Manning finished as the all-time passing yards leader, won two Super Bowls, and was a five-time NFL MVP.
But when Manning was benched for injury and ineffectiveness midway through the season, it was Brock Osweiler who filled in admirably in his absence. Osweiler threw for more than 1,900 yards in 7 games as a starter before Manning reclaimed the starting job before the playoffs.
Now Osweiler will depart as well. According to multiple reports, he former second-round draft pick will sign with the Houston Texans. (No deal is official until the NFL league year officially opens at 4:01 p.m.)
It’s a tough blow for the reigning champs, who will still have one of the NFL’s best defenses but will have multiple question marks on offense heading into the season. Former Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick are among the names being tossed around in rumor mills, though nothing definitive has been reported.
The Denver Broncos have also released three players who helped them win the Super Bowl: tight end Owen Daniels, guard Louis Vasquez, and long snapper Aaron Brewer.
Denver is trying to clear salary cap space to re-sign some of its key free agents, including Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, who received the franchise tag. With Peyton Manning retiring, the Broncos also need a starting quarterback and Brock Osweiler is a free agent.
Broncos general manager John Elway said Tuesday: "These decisions are never easy, but we appreciate the contributions Louis, Owen and Aaron made to our team, especially during our Super Bowl run."
Vasquez started all but one regular-season game in the last three seasons and all seven postseason matches. Daniels, signed by Denver as an unrestricted free agent from Baltimore last year, ranked third on the Broncos in receptions (46), receiving yards (517) and receiving touchdowns (3) during 2015.
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