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Do Denver Broncos need 'real' QB to repeat as champs?

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On Wednesday, the Houston Texans rocked the NFL by agreeing to terms with quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year contract worth $72 million.

It was stunning turn of events that airlifted Denver's successor to Peyton Manning to another AFC playoff team and created a seemingly glaring roster hole for the defending champs. John Elway was quick on spin control.

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"We've stayed true to our philosophy of building a team with players who want to be Denver Broncos and want to be here," the Broncos general manager said in a statement. "That's been a successful approach for us."

Elway added that the Broncos made what they felt was a "very competitive" offer to Osweiler, but ultimately had to show "discipline" as they build their roster for 2016.

Letting Osweiler out the door without a clear Plan B begs the question: Just how badly did the Broncos believe they needed Osweiler? More to the point: Are the Broncos internally convinced they can win another Super Bowl with an average option (or less) throwing the football?

That's exactly what they pulled off last year. According to NFL Media Research, Manning and Osweiler's combined passer rating (76.2), third-down percentage (33.0) and red-zone touchdown percentage (46.2) were all well below the league average. The pair combined to throw more interceptions than any team in the NFL (in fairness to Osweiler, Manning tossed 18 of the 24 combined picks).

Perhaps Elway believes he can get the job done with a middle-of-the-road veteran who doesn't make mistakes. We're not sure Colin Kaepernick is that guy, but whomever it is will cost far less than what the team was prepared to give to Osweiler. Those savings will help as the team attempts to lock up all-world linebacker Von Miller to a long-term deal.

That said, heading into a title defense without a battle-tested option at quarterback is risky business that can put unfair pressure on your defense. A defense, we should add, that has already lost standouts in Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan to free agency.

The Broncos undoubtedly have faith in their system, their coaching staff and the players who remain. The team proved in 2015 they could be quarterback-proof in the quarterback age. If they're to repeat as champs, they'll probably have to do it again.

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