When he was brought to the Houston Texans last spring, quarterback Brian Hoyer was never thought to be a major piece of the team's long-term future, despite the protestations, both private and public, of Texans head coach Bill O'Brien in response to the naysayers who, quite frankly, merely read the back of Hoyer's football card and came to the correct conclusion that he was a decidedly average to below-average NFL quarterback.
After a 2015 season that was marked by fits and starts, and concluded with one of the worst individual performances in the history of the Texans' franchise (four interceptions and a fumble lost in a 30-0 loss to the Chiefs in the playoffs), Hoyer's time as a Texan now appears to be winding to a close.
Courtesy of Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network on Tuesday afternoon...
Certainly, with the Texans' pursuing and eventual signing of Brock Osweiler for $72 million, it was a foregone conclusion that Hoyer would no longer be the team's starter. However, this is the first report confirming that the team plans to move him, presumably either in a trade or by cutting him. Hoyer is due $4 million in 2016 with no guaranteed money, so the team could cut him with no salary cap ramifications.
Last spring, Hoyer signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract to compete with Ryan Mallett, who himself had signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract to return to the Texans just days before. After being given pole position during training camp, Hoyer won the starting job heading into the regular season, a decision by O'Brien that was chronicled on HBO's Hard Knocks...
However, once the regular season began, Hoyer jumped on the roller coaster and never came off. The season opener saw Hoyer start the game against the Chiefs, but last only three quarters, as his first pass as a Texan was an interception. Ryan Mallett relieved Hoyer, and gave the Texans a chance at a tying possession with an onside kick, enough for him to take the starting job from Hoyer the following week against Carolina.
Hoyer would eventually win the job back after relieving a struggling Mallett in a Week 5 Thursday night game against the Colts. The following week, Hoyer would get his first win as a Texans starter against the Jaguars. Unfortunately, the week after that saw the Texans wiped out by the Dolphins in a game in which they trailed 41-0 at halftime, falling to 2-5 on the season.
This would be their nadir as a team for the Texans, who would win seven of their next nine games, but just another dip in the roller coaster for Hoyer, who would start and finish wins over the Titans, the Saints and the Jags again, while losing handily in starts against the Bills and the Patriots. (Hoyer started the win over the Bengals, but backup T.J. Yates engineered the only touchdown drive in the 10-6 victory.) The Texans would finish the regular season 9-7, and win the AFC South in a down year overall for the division.
While statistically Hoyer had his best season as a pro (not exactly a high bar to clear) with more than 2,600 yards, 19 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, the numbers are a bit deceptive since a significant chunk of that damage was done with the Texans trailing big against prevent defenses in games against the Falcons, Colts and Dolphins (seven touchdown passes while trailing by double digits). In a nationally televised game against the Patriots, Hoyer was abysmal, completing just 11 of 22 passes for 155 yards before leaving the game concussed. His last act as a Texan was the aforementioned rock-bottom playoff performance against Kansas City.
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So now comes the question of what happens with Hoyer. The Texans have done a pretty good job of flipping QB scraps into late-round picks or players since O'Brien arrived in 2014, trading Matt Schaub, Yates, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick for something when most thought they'd get nothing. Hoyer may have more street value than all of those players did at the time of their trades, although Keenum and Fitzpatrick have become serviceable starters for their teams.
The ultimate irony would be Hoyer becoming a Denver Bronco, which is certainly in play when you consider that Colin Kaepernick will likely remain a San Francisco 49er and Fitzpatrick should eventually re-sign with the Jets. Those are the only really viable veteran options left for the defending Super Bowl champs, who have already traded for Mark Sanchez this offseason.
For now, the last grains of sand trickle through the hourglass of Hoyer's brief stop in Houston. Soon, it will be over.
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