In the first year of his regime as head coach of the Houston Texans, Bill O'Brien essentially cleaned house at the quarterback position, figuratively moving a lot of Gary Kubiak's old furniture out of his office.
Gone was Matt Schaub, traded to Oakland. Gone was T.J. Yates, traded to Atlanta. Case Keenum hung around for training camp before getting cut before the season.
Into the 2014 season the Texans rolled with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter, Ryan Mallett as his backup, and rookie Tom Savage as the project.
Well, that's all well and good for Year One. You can roll with Fitzpatrick while you try and right so many other wrongs from the 2-14 season in 2013. But it's Year Two now, and the quarterback position must represent hope, even if it's just a sliver.
To that end, Ryan Mallett qualifies. Mallett is the Texans' semblance of hope, and the two sides sealed that earlier today with Mallett's agreeing to a two year, $7 million deal.
A sliver of Ryan Mallett is all we saw in 2014, but that was enough for him to get the backing from the majority of Texan fans and O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith, both of whom repeatedly referred to Mallett by name when asked about the QB position at the NFL Combine a couple weeks ago.
For his part, Mallett certainly looked the part in his first career start, leading the Texans to a 23-7 road win over the Cleveland Browns and Brian Hoyer (more on him momentarily). The following week, though, Mallett was wildly inaccurate in a home loss to the Bengals.
As it turned out, Mallett played the Cincinnati game with a torn pectoral muscle and would be shut down for the remainder of the season just a day later. However, in a city starved for quality quarterback play (still bruised from the Schaub-fueled barrage of pick sixes in 2013), Mallett's cameo was enough.
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There was never any question about Mallett's five star arm. However, the reason he slipped to the third round in the 2011 Draft, and the reason the Texans picked him up for a conditional late round pick from the Patriots on the eve of the 2014 season, was always his perceived two star head. However, by all accounts, Mallett was a great teammate and solid study in his time here last season.
Now he gets the opportunity everyone thought he would get when he committed to Michigan out of high school in Texarkana and set records at Arkansas under Bobby Petrino. He is (likely) a full time NFL starter.
The only question remaining at the position is who he will compete with/be backed up by. As of this morning, it had been widely reported that Cleveland Browns free agent QB Brian Hoyer would also be signing with the Texans, however later this morning, those reports cooled and now reportedly the Jets will be making Hoyer an offer. What happens then with Fitzpatrick is anybody's guess, although in this market that seems to be valuing backup experience more than ever, he would seemingly be worthy of a late draft choice from someone.
At this point, the Texans last few days have to be considered a huge success, with the retention of CB Kareem Jackson and RT Derek Newton at market value deals and Mallett at a deal significantly less than less talented and proven-to-be-poor QB's like Josh McCown in Cleveland.