Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Now that Peyton Manning has officially hung up his cleats, the number of teams in need for a starting quarterback for 2016 has increased by one.

The Denver Broncos have been accustomed to playing with a competent NFL-caliber quarterback for several years, with Manning directing the team for the last few years and General Manager John Elway the quarterback for many years before the millennium.

It wasn’t earth-shattering news that Manning retired last weekend because the media had been speculating this event ever since the final gun sounded ending Super Bowl 50 last month.

In fact, word around the NFL was that Manning would have been released early this week if he didn’t retire due to his humongous salary cap number.

But even with the use of Manning’s $19 million salary cap the Broncos saved, they still don’t have the necessary salary cap money to retain some of the players that were instrumental in their Super Bowl victory. Elway is approaching veterans in an attempt to restructure their contracts to free up cap dollars.

Now that Manning is gone, Elway needs to convince untested Brock Osweiler to sign a contract at his figures. But because the 6-7, 240-pound Osweiler has only started seven games in his four-year National Football League career, the Broncos are reluctant to offer him a huge, multi-year contract.

Throw in the fact that free agency begins at 3 p.m. today (Wednesday) and it sort of stymies Denver from getting into the marketplace until they satisfy their own needs with their prominent players who also became free agents today.

Osweiler certainly helped the Broncos get to the Super Bowl when he subbed for Manning when he suffered the foot injury and won five of the seven games he started.

Jimmy Sexton, Osweiler’s agent, is going to try to get every possible dollar for his client. Sexton has informed Denver that the Philadelphia Eagles set the standard last week when they signed quarterback Sam Bradford to a two-year contract averaging $18 million per year, according to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle.

The Broncos are well aware that Osweiler isn’t worth that kind of money because he has started only seven games in his entire career. According to the Chronicle’s article, there were reports last weekend Denver increased its offer to $15 million a year. Sexton believes Osweiler is worth what the market will bear.

And with the Houston Texans in desperate straits for a quality starting quarterback, they could very well afford to come up with the asking price of Osweiler if he doesn’t re-sign with Denver.

The Texans are $43 million under the salary cap and will probably have more to work with after releasing some more of their players. They freed up nearly $9 million when they waived running back Arian Foster last week.

Another team in need of a quality starting quarterback is the Cleveland Browns now that Johnny Manziel doesn’t appear to be in their future plans.

The Browns have been eyeballing University of California’s Jared Goff, but new head coach Hue Jackson doesn’t like him because he claims his hands are too small.

“It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow and it’s different,” Jackson explained. “I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations, so we’ll look for a guy that fits what we’re looking for in a quarterback.”

The drafting of Manziel after he won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 eventually cost then-General Manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine their jobs.

  Ironically, before drafting Manziel with the 22nd pick, the Browns spent $100,000 on an analytic study that concluded Terry Bridgewater had the best opportunity to succeed of the quarterbacks coming out of college.

But the Browns ignored the advice and consequently blew the money and the pick and are again looking for a starting quarterback.

KWICKIES…Southeast Texas will be well-represented at the UIL Boys’ State Basketball Tournament that begins tomorrow (Thurs.) at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Silsbee (30-5) will meet Levelland (25-11) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 4A semifinals, East Chambers (33-6) takes on Van Alstyne (29-7) tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in Class 3A and Big Sandy (38-2) plays Muenster (33-3) Friday at 8:30 a.m. in Class 2A. All the championship games take place on Saturday.

And while on the subject of basketball, conference tournaments continue this week to qualify for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as March Madness will conclude with the Final Four in Houston.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Lamar Cardinals men’s basketball team last weekend concluded a dismal 11-19 season and an anemic 3-15 record in Southland Conference play and did not qualify for this week’s conference tournament.

The University of Illinois, which has NEVER had a black football or basketball head coach, broke that tradition in a big way Monday when they hired former NFL head coach Lovie Smith, who began his illustrious football coaching career at Big Sandy High School, not too far up the road from our area.

One of the Houston Astros’ biggest concerns this spring training was finding a good-hitting first baseman, which the team has lacked for the last several seasons. But after the first week of Grapefruit League competition, the Astros boast five players who are all hitting well enough to win that starting job—Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Jon Singleton, Preston Tucker and Tyler White. Manager A.J. Hinch is using these five as much as possible, either at first base, third base, designated hitter or in the outfield. They not only are  hitting for good averages, but are busting the long ball as well as the Astros open the regular season in less than four weeks against mighty New York in Yankee Stadium.

Australian Adam Scott won his second consecutive PGA Tour event by capturing the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship Sunday by one stroke over Bubba Watson at the “Blue Monster” Golf Course in Doral, Fla. Scott began Sunday’s final round back nine with four birdies on the first five holes to erase a six-shot deficit with 13 holes remaining. Scott has earned more than $3 million in the past two weeks.

The Lamar Cardinals baseball team won two of a three-game series against UT-Rio Grande Valley last weekend at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont. The Redbirds (9-4) won the opener Friday 4-1, lost Saturday 7-3 and won the rubber game 4-1 Sunday. The Big Red concluded their non-conference schedule Tuesday against Rice before they start Southland Conference play.

JUST BETWEEN US…NFL fans will certainly miss hearing Peyton Manning shout “Omaha!!” with the Denver Broncos from now on after announcing his retirement last weekend. He became only the second player in league history to retire after winning the Super Bowl. The other was his former boss John Elway. He also is the only player to win Super Bowls with two different teams and appear in four Super Bowls under four different head coaches. During his 18 seasons Peyton was a five-time MVP—two more than any other player, passed for 71,940 yards—the most in NFL history, had 539 touchdowns—the all-time mark, 186 wins—which ties Brett Favre and 56 game-winning drives—the most in NFL history. Manning also earned $250 million which does not include endorsements.