ENGLEWOOD | Brock Osweiler was so excited to be back in Denver he swore he would have signed for a buck, played in bare feet or even been the Broncos’ water boy.
Of course, he’s getting $16 million this season, all but $775,000 of it from the Cleveland Browns, so he’s good for a round of drinks, and he had his pick of shiny white cleats in his locker next to starter Trevor Siemian.
The Broncos brought back Peyton Manning’s longtime backup 18 months after he bolted to Houston in free agency because Paxton Lynch sprained his throwing shoulder four days after losing the starting QB job to Siemian for the second straight summer.
After passing his physical, signing his contract, diving into the playbook and hitting the practice field, Osweiler held an extraordinary nine-minute news conference Monday stuffed with honesty, humility and humor — but no heartache.
He said he has no regrets for leaving Denver in the first place but “I’m ecstatic to be back here” after an odyssey that included a playoff win, a benching, a blow-up, a trade, the birth of his daughter and a release to go with all those fat paychecks.
Well, maybe he’d think better of declaring the Texans gave him the best opportunity to win. But Osweiler’s not one to look back.
He is one to take stock, though.
“It’s kind of like that old deal when you’re a little kid and your mom tells you don’t touch the hot stove,” Osweiler said. “So, what do you have to do as a curious kid? You have to go touch the hot stove and you learn real quick how nice that stove is when it’s not hot.
“Needless to say, I’m very thankful to be back here. My wife and I, we miss Colorado every single day. This is a special place, special organization and a special city.”
Osweiler was once Manning’s heir apparent, but it was Siemian who rose up the depth chart last year when Osweiler signed with the Texans for $37 million in guarantees the same week Manning retired a champion.
After just one season, the Texans traded Osweiler to Cleveland, which cut him over the weekend.
Osweiler said he told his agent he didn’t care about any other teams “but if there’s an offer from Denver, I don’t care if it’s a dollar, that’s where we’re going.”
Showing he held no grudges, general manager John Elway brought Osweiler back and declared Denver never would have won Super Bowl 50 without Osweiler, who went 5-2 when Manning was sidelined with a foot injury in 2015.
“With everything he went through in Houston and then going to Cleveland, I’m sure he’s going to need a little football rehab,” Elway said. “We know that. We’ll welcome him with open arms and give him some love.”
That’s exactly what happened.
“I’ve got 100 percent confidence if anything happens to 13, 17 will be ready to go because he knows the system,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “He was drafted into this system, got to play in it. He’s super smart. So, I’m all the way in on the decision.”
The Broncos’ other option was going with undrafted rookie Kyle Sloter, who led the league in passer rating in the preseason but was undressed by Denver’s No. 1 defense in practice and is now on the Vikings’ practice squad.
“Sloter played good in the preseason but you want to go into the season confident in your backup quarterback,” Aqib Talib said. “We know Brock knows the system. We’ve seen him in this system before. We know worst scenario if something happens to Trev, we’re confident in our backup quarterback now.”
Osweiler agreed with Elway’s assessment that Denver’s nurturing environment with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and QBs coach Bill Musgrave was the best place for him to get right so he can be a starter again in the NFL someday.
“John Elway knows what he’s doing and I trust everything that he’s doing, the coaches he puts in here and the decisions he makes,” Osweiler said.
So, Osweiler is going to be a loyal backup QB again and isn’t worried about how long this second stint will last.
“I’m prepared and ready to support Trevor with whatever he needs,” Osweiler said. “Shoot, I would come back here to be the water boy. It’s funny, I went in to go get cleats today and they asked what cleats I wanted and I said, ‘I don’t care, just give me something. I’ll go out there in bare feet today.’
“This is Trevor’s team and I’m the backup.”
He understands not all Broncos fans are as excited as he is about his return.
“I want people to know that decision didn’t come lightly,” Osweiler said of his departure last year. “I didn’t sleep for about a week. I was sick to my stomach every single day. I was a mess. At the end of the day I tried making the best business decision for me and my family. Whether I made the best one or not, that could be argued.”
Like the Broncos, he just hopes they’ll give him another chance.
“I’m so happy to be back here,” Osweiler said. “There’s no greater place in the NFL.”