Congratulations to the Houston Texans, who as of Sunday evening were still the only team in the NFL to have not signed a free agent that was with another team at the end of last season. Meanwhile, they've watched half their starting secondary (A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps), a starting outside linebacker (John Simon) and a valuable backup on the offensive line (Oday Aboushi) leave for greener pastures. Good times!
The Texans have nearly $30 million in salary cap space to play with, but have thus far chosen to watch the parade go by and let others do the big spending...or all the spending, big and small, really. The Texans only have so many draft picks, so they'll need to spend some money on veterans at some point to backfill these spots.
In the meantime, we wait to see what the quarterback situation will be next season here in Houston. Let's go through this week's Power Rankings of possible solutions at quarterback, in one man's (my) order of preference (not necessarily in order of probability):
1. Tony Romo (free agent signing after likely Cowboys release, or via trade with Cowboys)
LAST WEEK: 1
After the thinking that Romo was on the verge of being released last week, the brakes were pumped on that notion, and now it would appear Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is in a staring contest with the Broncos and the Texans over trying to pry SOMETHING in the way of an asset from either team. Add in that reportedly Jones may have a concern with Romo playing next season for a Super Bowl contender (well, a contender if they land Romo) in the same state, and the whole thing gets very juicy.
This is from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
So spin it forward. Romo exits Dallas and lands in Houston. And then every outlet in Dallas assigns at least one reporter to cover Romo’s year(s) in Houston, forcing America’s Team to share eyeballs and ears in its own hometown with the other team from Texas.
Spin it even farther forward. The Texans surge with a healthy Romo, becoming one of the best teams in the AFC. The Cowboys, defense drained by free agency and offense undermined by possible sophomore slumps of Dak Prescott and/or Ezekiel Elliott, regress to the mean. Cowboys fans would be tempted to set aside their silver and blue for the balance of the year and become temporary fans of Romo and the Texans.
That wouldn’t be good for business. And Jerry Jones is all about making good business decisions.
The best guess is this plays out at least through the owners meetings at the end of the month, where Jerry would be the belle of the "attention ball" with Romo sitting there on his personal eBay.
2. Jimmy Garoppolo (trade with New England)
LAST WEEK: 2
Not that we should fully believe any of the smoke signals this time of year, but there are more and more stories of Garoppolo staying in New England next season, and the Patriots letting it play out, with the understanding that the long-term, worst-case consolation prize in keeping him for one more year might be a third-round compensatory pick in 2019. For the "they have to get something for him" crowd, keep in mind that these are three scenarios that have more than a lottery ticket's shot at happening next season:
1. Tom Brady, at age 40, gets injured
2. Tom Brady, at age 40, sees his level of play drop off
3. Tom Brady, at age 40, wins a Super Bowl and decides to retire
All three of those scenarios make keeping Garoppolo, for next season and beyond, not just preferable but essential.
3. Kirk Cousins (trade with Washington)
LAST WEEK: Unranked
Russell Baxter, NFL writer extraordinaire, is the first one I saw float Cousins's name. As long as Cousins appears ready to press the issue on a trade, let's pretend that the Texans a) like Cousins (he seems like a QB that O'Brien would dig), and b) could put a package together to get him. They would also need to sign him to a long-term deal. Honestly, this is the only scenario that explains a logical cause-and-effect between the Texans's lack of activity with this cap space and their approach to the quarterback position.
4. Jay Cutler (free agent after likely release by the Bears)
LAST WEEK: 3
Cutler would be amazing from a content standpoint. If O'Brien was getting into animated shouting altercations with Brock Osweiler, I can only imagine the pain he'd want to inflict on Cutler's sourpuss. Unfortunately, John McClain is raining all over this parade, via his Facebook Live Q&A:
“No,” replied McClain. “I don’t see Jay Cutler here. A lot of teams are trying to say it. Here’s why, Bill O’Brien is a stickler. Every time you ask him about a quarterback, leadership is strong with him. He likes players to be vocal. To be demonstrative. To be vocal in meeting rooms when they’re going over game plans. But everything we know about Jay Cutler, that’s not him. Leadership and Cutler have never been used in the same sentence. And that’s why I don’t see Cutler coming here. It would be a desperate move. I know he would like to come here. He don’t want to go to a team that’s bad. He wants to come to a team that’s good. Denver’s not interested and so far the Texans haven’t been. And I don’t believe the Texans will be.”
5. Chase Daniel
LAST WEEK: Unranked
Hey, why not? Nobody has spent more time banging his head on the backup QB ceiling than Daniel, who just made $13 million for one pass attempt in two seasons in Philly. Chances are looking like Daniel may wind up back in New Orleans, but I'd be intrigued by him. Chances are virtually zero, but whatever.
6. Tom Savage (on the current roster)
LAST WEEK: 5
Tom Savage is staying warm...
Had a great throwing session today with the best in the business. @ThrowItDeep— Tom Savage (@TomSavage03) March 19, 2017
7. Drafted Rookie (drafted in first or second round)
LAST WEEK: 6
8. Colin Kaepernick (free agent...who now stands for the anthem!)
LAST WEEK: 7
Silly NFL Tweet of the Week runner-up goes to Florio...
The fact that Geno Smith now has a job is all the proof anyone should need that Colin Kaepernick is being shunned.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 17, 2017
The winner? This gem from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com
New Colts GM Chris Ballard identified a weakness. This month he has signed LBs Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, John Simon, and Sean Spence.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2017
So what you're telling me is that a general manager performed a basic function of his job by signing four players that range from slightly above average to slightly below average? Wow...amazing...
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9. Any recycled O'Brien discard (Fitzpatrick, Keenum)
LAST WEEK: 8
If the Texans have the injury history at QB in 2017 that they've had for most of the O'Brien era (and with Romo and Savage, that's almost a lock), I guarantee that one of the O'Brien alums will take snaps at some point. Stay nimble, Fitzy, Caser and Yatesy!!
10. A broomstick with a bucket for a head
LAST WEEK: 9
Still like this idea more than Osweiler.
Dropped out of rankings: 4. Tyrod Taylor, 10. Brock Osweiler
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.