When the Cleveland Browns acquired quarterback Brock Osweiler from the Houston Texans this offseason, it felt like Osweiler wouldn’t be with the Browns any longer than Mike Piazza was with the Florida Marlins.
Osweiler wasn’t just passing through, however. Osweiler is still on the Browns, still competing in practice, hopeful to find a role. It’s not like the Browns, who were 1-15 last season, couldn’t use the help. Even if the Browns were just taking on salary to acquire a valuable draft pick – the first time in recent memory an NFL team has traded away a pick just to dump a big contract – as long as Osweiler is on the roster he has a chance to impress.
“I don’t really make those decisions as far as what I was in the trade,” Osweiler said Wednesday. “The facts are I’m here, I’m playing football, I love being a Cleveland Brown.
“I’m only going to worry about the things I can control. My effort, my attitude, how hard I work, how hard I study. That’s what my focus is on right now.”
Osweiler said no conversations have taken place with the team about his future. There were reports right after the Browns acquired Osweiler that Cleveland wanted to trade him, but that never seemed realistic. The Texans had to give up a second-round pick to dump Osweiler, and it was hard to believe that teams would then line up to acquire him from Cleveland. Osweiler didn’t go anywhere, and since he’s still with Cleveland now, the Browns might as well give him a look.
Osweiler is working behind second-year quarterback Cody Kessler, and he has no problem with that.
“Cody has certainly earned that right,” Osweiler said. “He did a tremendous job for this football team. I’m the new guy on the block. I need to earn my stripes here.”
Osweiler is in a weird place, as far as his career is concerned. He’s just 26 years old. A little more than a year ago he was a prize on the free-agent market, and drew a contract worth $18 million a year from Houston after the Denver Broncos reportedly offered about $16 million a year. A year later, after a bad 2016 season, he was on a golf course when he was abruptly informed of the trade to Cleveland, which was clearly more interested in acquiring the pick than the player.
“I was standing on a sand trap and I got a phone call, and here we come,” Osweiler said.
A lot went wrong for Osweiler last season, but the former second-round pick is still young enough to revive his career. Osweiler was asked if he still considers himself capable of starting in the NFL.
“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Osweiler said. “I think the proof is in the film for the past two years.”
Most wouldn’t consider his 2016 tape a positive thing, but what else should he say? He did some good things in 2015, and the Broncos almost certainly wouldn’t have won Super Bowl 50 without his contributions. Osweiler talked about how the Browns coaching staff drills fundamentals, and perhaps getting a fresh start in a new system and with a new team can help. It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened.
The Browns have some young quarterbacks, and Osweiler is no sure thing to stick on the roster. They have Cody Kessler, a third-round pick last year, and DeShone Kizer, a second-round pick this year. Comparatively, the Browns have nothing significant invested in Osweiler. He’s fighting an uphill battle.
But who knows? There’s a reason at least two competent NFL teams were willing to spend a fortune on Osweiler 14 months ago. And Kessler and Kizer aren’t exactly Joe Montana and Steve Young. Less than a year ago, you’d have looked at the current Browns depth chart and instantly picked Osweiler as the best quarterback on it. Osweiler kept saying in his press conference Wednesday that he was only worried about learning the Browns’ system, being a good teammate and making a good impression by working hard. A few months ago, he did start in a Texans playoff win. He would love to get the shot to start again.
“Nobody plays this game to be a backup or to lose football games,” Osweiler said. “You play to start and ultimately help your football team win.”
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