Brock Osweiler: The Browns $16 million insurance policy

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Brock Osweiler
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Brock Osweiler /

The Cleveland Browns may find that Brock Osweiler’s best role is that of an insurance policy against an early season disaster at quarterback.

Brock Osweiler entered training camp this week in a peculiar situation.

He is without question the most-accomplished quarterback on the Cleveland Browns roster, which may not be saying much as his competition is second-year quarterback Cody Kessler and rookie DeShone Kizer, but it is still something to hang his hat on.

Osweiler has made 21 starts in the NFL and spent four seasons “learning at the knee” of Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos. The value of that can be a bit overstated, but if it was a selling point for New England quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, then Osweiler deserves to have that as a checkmark in his favor as well.

Despite all that, Osweiler has been an after thought in the minds of just about everyone from the moment the Browns acquired him in a trade with the Houston Texans. It has gotten to the point where some fans will be actively outraged if Osweiler is even on the opening day roster, let alone if head coach Hue Jackson somehow names Osweiler the starting quarterback.

Given what he has been through in the past two years – going from a member of a Super Bowl-winning team to battling for a roster spot with the Browns – Osweiler is taking a practical approach to his current situation, as he told on Friday:

"“I wouldn’t say an edge or anything like that. Bottom line, I have been in the league a little bit longer than the other guys, but at the end of the day, that means nothing. Every quarterback that is in that room is very talented and very smart. Every single person works extremely hard trying to perfect their craft, trying to clean up little things every single day. There is no edge. Everyone has their strengths and has their weaknesses, and I think it is going to be a great competition.”"

All things being equal, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Osweiler takes the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.

While Kessler has an edge in not having to learn a new offense – Osweiler is on his third in three years – he is still destined to be nothing more than a solid backup quarterback. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) And Kizer is still a rookie, one who needs more than a handful of training camp practices and a few quarters of preseason game action to be ready to start an NFL game.

But this is the NFL, so things are rarely equal. The reality is that Osweiler is still on the roster in large part because the Browns have not found someone willing to take on his $16 million in guaranteed salary for the upcoming season. Jackson has stated that the quarterback roles are there for the taking, but even that comes with some reality attached to it.

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Jackson could give more reps to Osweiler in the hopes that he looks more like the quarterback he was in Denver and less like the one he was in Houston, but that takes time away from Kizer.

The rookie may not be ready to play in Week 1, but the Browns did not select him in the second round to have him hanging around with the scout team. Jackson needs to give Kizer as much work as is realistically possible in the coming weeks.

As for Kessler, he has a role to play on the Browns in the wars to come,  likely as a reliable option as the backup quarterback. It is not hard to picture a scenario where Kessler does just enough that Jackson can justify naming him the starter, with Kizer taking over at some point during the season.

That is where the Osweiler situation gets a bit complicated. Ideally the switch to Kizer, if it were to occur this fall, would come on Nov. 12 as the Browns come off their bye week. But for that to play out, Kessler would have to make it through eight consecutive games as the starter, which in Cleveland is never a safe bet.

If Kessler were to go down early, and with the Browns facing three divisional games in the first four weeks of the season, having to throw Kizer into the fire early on may not be a prudent course of action.

Which is why Osweiler’s best role may be as Jackson’s $16 million insurance policy in case something goes wrong.

Next: Brock Osweiler handling himself well so far

And like most insurance policies, it may be one that the Browns – or at least some of their fans – hope to never have to use.