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Why did the Dolphins sign Brock Osweiler? (No really, why?)

Miami signed Osweiler to a contract Friday. Hooray?

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Despite starting 25 games in a six-year career, Brock Osweiler has yet to demonstrate he’s a reliable starting quarterback in the NFL. He’ll earn another chance to prove himself as more than simply one of the league’s tallest players after coming to terms with the Miami Dolphins.

The 6’7 passer went 0-4 last season as a spot starter in his return to Denver, the franchise where he earned a Super Bowl ring and, ultimately, a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. He completed just 55 percent of his passes and threw for just 181 yards per game in another disappointing season. While he’s just 27 years old, his turbulent history — which includes getting released by the quarterback-starved Browns — sets his ceiling as an NFL backup QB.

He may have to be more than that for Miami. The Dolphins hope to have a healthy Ryan Tannehill behind center this fall, but knee injuries have derailed his past two seasons. That led the club to spend $10 million to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement for a 6-8 season as a starter. They won’t have to bring back Cutler in 2018 should Tannehill miss extended time — instead they’ll have an even less-accomplished former Bronco to fall back on.

Moving to Miami will reunite Osweiler with some familiar faces. Dolphins head coach Adam Gase mentored the young quarterback with Denver in two of his first three seasons in the league. Running backs coach Eric Studesville has also shared a sideline with Osweiler in years past.

What makes Brock Osweiler worth another NFL contract?

Osweiler is a quarterback on the right side of 30 with starting experience, which is a great way to start a free agency resume and hope no one reads any further. His forte is underthrowing Pro Bowl wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Emmanuel Sanders) while allowing stellar defenses to carry entirely too much of his weight on the other side of the field. In his last two seasons, he’s thrown more interceptions (21) than touchdown passes (20) and thrown for a dreadful 5.9 yards per attempt — a mark slightly better than Brett Hundley’s 2017 stint as Aaron Rodgers’ replacement in Green Bay.

While the bloom has faded from his rose, he’s still capable of providing a useful presence as a backup. At his moderately efficient best, Osweiler’s proven a top-five defense can make him a proven winner. In the six (out of 25) starts where he’s averaged at least 6.8 yards per pass (a baseline of Case Keenum’s 2016 season with the Rams), he’s 6-0. When he’s on top of his game, he still isn’t going to give you much — but if you’ve got an emergency and your defense is up to the challenge, you could do worse.

And “you could do worse” may be an awful investment at $18 million per year, but it’s not so bad on a backup quarterback deal.