If there's one spot on the Houston Texans' roster that recent history has shown will be needed at some point during the regular season, it's the backup quarterback position. In 2014 and 2015, O'Brien shuffled quarterbacks and watched enough of them go down with injuries, to where he started a half dozen different guys over those two years. Then, in 2016, Brock Osweiler made us wish that they could start six other guys, and in 2017, Deshaun Watson's injury made us all sad to see literally ANY other human being start at quarterback for this team.
I say all that to say "Holy crap! The Texans don't have a backup quarterback right now!" Full disclosure, I believe Taylor Heinicke is still on the roster, but if that's who they're rolling with, strike me down right now, football gods! This team needs to sign a veteran backup, and in addition, I'd like to see them use a late round pick on a project with upside.
More than anything, they need a guy that makes you feel like there's more than a ten percent chance you can win a football game, if something happens to Deshaun Watson. There aren't many (any?) of those guys left. Now, before you go espousing the belief that they need someone to run all of the plays head coach Bill O'Brien likes to run for Deshaun Watson, hang on... O'Brien was on my radio show, "The Triple Threat" on SportsRadio 610, last week and gave this answer for what he is looking for in a backup:
"I think the priority is, No. 1, does the guy have anticipation? Does he have the ability to throw the ball accurately on time? I think that's big. I think the guy has to have a level of intelligence. He has to have leadership qualities. He has to have a tremendous work ethic. I think if he has mobility, with some of the things we are doing, I think that definitely helps, but I don't think it's something strictly that we are saying 'We have to have a guy that has mobility.'"
With that in mind, here are a few names off the full list of bargain bin guys that I think are on the Texans' short list (and one name that definitely is not, I'm guessing):
MATT MOORE (Age 33, Career record 15-15)
Moore's most profound recent accomplishment was probably two seasons ago, where he was able to go 2-1 in three starts to close out the 2016 season and get the Dolphins into the 2016 playoffs. From there, it was all downhill, as Moore was smacked around by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild card round game, a game where he probably should have been benched with concussion symptoms. The buzz around Moore is likely due to, other than the thin roster of targets, his relationship with Texans GM Brian Gaine from Gaine's time in Miami. If there is a betting favorite for the job right now, it might be Moore.
MARK SANCHEZ (age 31, Career record 37-35)
Let's start off with the positives on Sanchez — first, he does have significant playoff experiences, having started two AFC championship games. (Granted, they were during Obama's first term in office, but help me out here!) Second, he has a reputation of being a very positive locker room influence, and with a similar draft pedigree to Watson and having played under one of the biggest microscopes (New York City), there must be wisdom in there somewhere from which Watson can benefit. Now, the bad — Sanchez is just not very good at football anymore. It started in 2016 with this kiss of death from John Elway...
Acquired QB Mark Sanchez for a conditional '17 pick. He brings veteran leadership & will compete. This is the 1st step in our process.— John Elway (@johnelway) March 11, 2016
... and slid into the abyss from there. After Denver cut him in 2016, the Cowboys picked up Sanchez, and last season was spent in Chicago as a third stringer in Chicago behind Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky. Still, I trust Sanchez more than most of the names in the "available" bin.
BRANDON WEEDEN (Age 34, Career record 6-19)
Hey, having spent time here in 2015 and 2016, HE KNOWS THE SYSTEM, and we know how crucial that is... [cough, Tom Savage, cough, starter, cough] ... and Weeden is undefeated as a Houston Texan starting quarterback! TRUE STORY! (NOTE: He is 1-0.) I was a little surprised the Texans cut Weeden last season and went with just two quarterbacks, and given how the season unfolded, it would have been beneficial to watch Weeden play all of those T.J. Yates starts at the end of the season, solely to see if he is worth having as the second stringer this year.
BLAINE GABBERT (Age 28, Career record 11-34)
A former top 10 pick in 2011, and the answer to the question "What player was selected the pick before J.J. Watt?" Gabbert was a train wreck in Jacksonville, before signing on with San Francisco and Arizona the last two seasons where he became, um, slightly less of a train wreck. As a former high pick, he probably as much physical talent as anyone left on the market, but damn, Gabbert is also the answer to this question — "When the Texans went 1-8 down the stretch last season, who was the opposing starter in their one win?"
COLIN KAEPERNICK (Age 30, Career record 28-30)
The internet perked up last week when they saw this tweet from Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports...
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So guess which former #NFL player went through a 90-minute throwing workout on a private Houston area practice field this morning?— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 15, 2018
Despite having to duck security, I was able to view the whole workout. He looked good. I’ll have a little something on it soon. pic.twitter.com/gIcbvF1iaD
"Wow... could the Texans be looking at Kaepernick? I mean... HE IS IN HOUSTON!" That was the conjecture... until we found out that Kaepernick was in town to attend the deposition of Bob McNair in Kaepernick's collusion lawsuit agains the NFL. So it was, like, the TOTAL OPPOSITE of Kaepernick signing here.
Kaepernick ain't happening... no way, no how, although if it were just about football, he would be my first choice, and it's not even close.
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.