On Sunday the Houston Texans finally executed the move that many people felt was inevitable once Bill O’Brien was hired as their head coach: they acquired backup quarterback Ryan Mallett from the New England Patriots.
It was obvious how those pieces would come together: the Texans were in need of a franchise quarterback with the departure of Matt Schaub. Who better than the guy once pegged to be Tom Brady‘s replacement, let alone a guy with whom O’Brien worked while coaching on New England’s staff?
The trade did happen, but not necessarily in the context people initially perceived. For the Texans it sounds like Mallet is just another project in addition to 2014 draft pick Tom Savage. Mallett is more like a hedge than a bet as franchise quarterback. Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle explains:
Mallett, 26, won’t challenge for the starting spot any time soon, and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick remains locked in as O’Brien’s No. 1, despite an off-on-off preseason. Rookie Tom Savage remains the ideal long-term solution, despite seeing his on-field activity limited throughout training camp and dealing with the reality of being a fourth-round pick.
What Mallett adds is New England familiarity. And a strong, potentially true NFL arm. And the possibility O’Brien and Godsey could “save” the once-troubled QB, developing two projects at once, then placing the Texans in Mallett’s or Savage’s hands at the same time New England is cashing in a 2016 pick that likely will be forgotten immediately.
In his brief NFL career, Mallett has thrown for exactly 17 yards and one interception on four attempts. For all the hype around him because of his situation in New England, he still has plenty to prove on his new team.
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