The Texans will once again be in the market for a longterm solution at quarterback. Like a lot of teams, they will be looking to find a player who can be the answer at the position on more than a year to year basis.
Speculation has been rampant on just who that might be. A draft pick? A reclamation project? A Matt Schaub-type backup ready to get a chance?
Fans are screaming for one. Even the owner has said it has to be addressed. But if it was that easy, every team would have Tom Brady. Teams that have an answer at the position won’t be giving those players up, no matter what the cost. So it becomes a speculative market based on draft picks, backups and retreads.
So when the offseason officially begins, there should be no shortage of possibilities. The question is which one will be right for the Texans? Which of these will actually be attainable? The process begins this week at the Senior Bowl. Here is a look at all the possibilities:
Brian Hoyer is still under contract, as is Tom Savage. Brandon Weeden and T.J. Yates also saw time at the position. The latter two are free agents but could be brought back cheaply.
Expect Hoyer or Weeden to return with an eventual goal of being the veteran backup. Savage will get a chance to compete for the job, and showed flashes in his first two years, but was also injury prone in very little playing time. Durability is a huge concern for quarterbacks, and that coupled with the question of whether or not Savage can actually play makes him a dicey prospect at the position. As we said at the end of the year, you can start a season with Hoyer, but if you finish it with him, you failed in the offseason.
High draft picks who might be released by their current teams after failing to succeed are also possibilities. The most likely candidates are Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Colin Kaepernick and Sam Bradford. You can probably throw E.J. Manuel into that list.
Griffin will be released, and would be worth a look on a small, incentive laden contract. But someone will likely overpay for him, and the Texans should not considering his immaturity issues and failures in Washington. Still, the Griffin from his rookie year with some maturity could still be a factor in the league. That’s a big question, but one worth gambling on if the investment is small.
Kaepernick is likely staying put in San Francisco now that Chip Kelly is there so he probably isn’t an option. Manziel is undersized, injury prone, a mess off the field and has not shown he can be an NFL quarterback. The Texans passed on him once and would do so again at any price. He simply isn’t worth the risk, even if Cleveland cuts ties. Bradford is intriguing, but has also been injury prone and will likely command too high of a salary. Like Griffin, worth a look at an affordable price, but will probably get paid more elsewhere. Manuel would likely be affordable, and he might improve under Bill O’Brien. But he has shown little so far and would not be the best option.
THE DRAFT PICKS
It’s a little early to know who is going to grade out where among quarterbacks. The consensus seems to be Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Carson Wentz are the three most likely to go high in the draft, and with the Texans picking 22nd, it’s unlikely they would be in on any of those players. Wentz’s stock seems to be going through the roof. If any of the three were available at 22, it would be a solid pick. If not? The next tier of Connor Cook, Cardale Jones, Christian Hackenberg and perhaps Kevin Hogan come into play. It’s hard to see any of those players as anything other than longterm projects, maybe better versions of Savage. Anyone else they would draft would be later on and in the Savage mode. Someone could shoot up the boards and be worthy of pick 22, but we will know more on that in the coming months.
There are no shortage of names out there that could be had either in trade or as free agents. Mark Sanchez, Mike Glennon or Geno Smith do anything for you? Did not think so. Chase Daniel and Scott Tolzein are possibilities as well, but are they any different than Hoyer or Weeden? The same goes for Colt McCoy, Tarvaris Jackson, Derek Anderson. It’s just shuffling veteran names.
The intriguing possibilities would be trading for players who were drafted — like Savage — as prospects and have now spent time developing. A.J. McCarron (who the Texans could have had instead of Savage) showed flashes for the Bengals, but they have no incentive to trade him with Andy Dalton coming off an injury. You would have to overpay and he is still an unknown. More affordable options would be available, however. Ryan Nassib in New York is an unknown quantity. Former coach Tom Coughlin liked him, but with Eli Manning taking every snap we still don’t know what Nassib could be. The same goes for Brett Hundley in Green Bay, another player who was highly regarded before the draft but slipped. Sitting behind Aaron Rodgers is no shame, and for the right draft pick, like Nassib, he could be an interesting possibility.
Another possibility to consider: Aaron Murray, who has been buried in Kansas City. Nassib, Murray or Hundley would cost a solid draft pick, but it’s a different option than drafting a QB and it’s not like the Texans hit on their middle picks anyway.
With players like that, you are hoping for a Tyrod Taylor type who never played behind Joe Flacco but had a solid season when finally given a shot as a starter.
This might be the best approach, depending on how the draft plays out.
THE CAP CASUALTIES/POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS
There really isn’t a likely option here other than Griffin. Peyton Manning won’t likely be back in Denver, but realistically he probably won’t be back at all. Drew Brees will probably restructure in New Orleans, so the pipe dreams there should soon be put to rest. Kirk Cousins will get overpaid in Washington, and Brock Osweiler is the future in Denver and won’t be available either. So this is probably a dry well.
THE OLD STANDBYS
Names you won’t hear anywhere other than talk radio: Vince Young, Tim Tebow, and hell, dig up Brett Favre. Did we mention Case Keenum? We only include these to say the only thing as ridiculous as those names is Manziel. No chance and not worthy of discussion.
At times, there have been some quality prospects go to the CFL to work on their games and then come back ready for the NFL. But it has been a long time since a quarterback did that. Bo Levi Mitchell might be the best prospect, but he has had injury issues and is under contract until 2018. He would be an intriguing NFL prospect but that ship might have sailed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Realistically, the Texans will likely check the cost on Griffin and Bradford. It’s unlikely they will be able to afford either as other teams will be in the market and overspend. After that, the draft is the most likely course, with perhaps a trade up if one of the top three slips or a trade down to get a Hackenberg or Cook. That solution is a longterm one, however and it’s doubtful any of those players help next year.
Don’t rule out the young backup types: Hundley, Nassib, Murray and perhaps even Manuel. Like draft picks, they are unproven, but unlike draft picks, they have time in the league and might be ready to break out. This move worked for a few years with Matt Schaub, so it might be the way to go. The only difference is Schaub showed talent in his chances to play as a backup in Atlanta. Only Manuel has been on the field, and he has shown little to nothing.
So it’s easy to say “go get a quarterback.” Looking at the names above, do any really seem like an answer? Regardless, barring some shocking move, expect one of them to be on the roster. Because the Texans have to do something at the position. And this is what is out there.