By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have filled their biggest need, starting free agency with a splash by snagging Brock Osweiler from Denver.
The quarterback arrived in Houston on Wednesday night after agreeing to a four-year contract reportedly worth $72 million and will be introduced in Houston on Thursday.
The Broncos hoped to keep Osweiler in the wake of Peyton Manning’s retirement on Monday.
Instead he’s joining the Texans who were looking to upgrade the position after Brian Hoyer’s struggles last season, particularly his turnover-filled performance in their wild-card playoff loss to Kansas City.
Osweiler talked about leaving the Broncos.
“It was very difficult,” he said. “I’d be lying to you if I said anything else. I had a tremendous four seasons there in Denver and those are four years that I’ll always hold close to my heart. But bottom line coming to Houston was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
The Texans also made other upgrades to their offense on Wednesday, agreeing to deals with running back Lamar Miller and offensive linemen Jeff Allen and Tony Bergstrom. Houston needed a running back after releasing franchise rushing leader Arian Foster last week.
Osweiler appeared in eight games with seven starts last season for the Super Bowl champion Broncos. He threw for a career-high 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions last season.
He started the last seven games of the regular season, but was benched in favor of Manning for the postseason. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound player spent the first four years of his career with the Broncos after being drafted in the second round in 2012 out of Arizona State.
Broncos general manager John Elway told the team’s website after Osweiler agreed to terms with the Texans that they stayed true to their philosophy of building a team with players who want to be there.
“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,” Elway said.
Osweiler threw for a career-high 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions last season. He only played sparingly in his first three seasons in Denver and never threw for 100 yards in a season until last year.
He hopes that he can help Houston, which has never advanced past the second round of the postseason, to a Super Bowl.
“I know this team already has guys in the locker room who bring leadership, who bring hard work to the table, but my biggest deal I just want to do my job,” he said. “And I want to contribute to this team in a positive manner and do whatever it takes to get that world championship.”
He thinks the team is close to reaching that level.
“What I see with this football team is something special,” he said. “I believe this organization is on the cusp of doing something great and that’s something that I want to be a part of.”
Hoyer remains on Houston’s roster after signing a two-year contract before last season, but his five-turnover fiasco in the loss to the Chiefs made it clear that Houston needed a change at the position.
Adding Osweiler comes after a season where Houston was forced to use four quarterbacks. Struggles by Hoyer got him benched in the season opener and the Texans started Ryan Mallett for four games.
But he won just one of those games and soon Hoyer was starting again and Mallett was released after missing a team flight. The Texans started both T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden late in the season when Hoyer missed three games because of two concussions in less than a month.
Osweiler’s decision leaves the Broncos with Trevor Siemian as the only quarterback on their roster. The seventh-round pick took just one snap as a rookie last season.
“We’ve now turned our attention to other options at quarterback and we are confident that we’ll find the right player and person for our team,” Elway said. “Our organization thanks Brock for his contributions and wishes him all the best.”
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