The NFL offseason is about to, potentially, become a gigantic game of quarterback roulette here over the next few weeks. Big, veteran signal caller names are hitting free agency, big names are potentially on the trade block, and there is about to be an influx of new, young talent in April. This stuff all mattered to Houston Texans fans back a few years ago.
Thankfully, those days are gone, hopefully for the next dozen years or so. The Houston Texans now employ Derrick Deshaun Watson at the toughest, most important position in team sports, and in spite of whatever other bullets are flying around this team and this sports city, his presence means that times are generally good. Still, even with a franchise quarterback in place, the Texans have quarterback to-do's on the offseason list.
Here are three burning Texan questions on the quarterback position:
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Does Deshaun Watson get a new deal?
The answer will eventually be a resounding "YES," of course, but the question is really "WHEN will it happen?" The assumption is that we are entering a phase of the calendar in which Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, the two best quarterbacks still on rookie deals, both eligible for extensions, will engage in a staring contest to see who signs first. Complicating the imminence of Watson's new deal could be a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which might see the salary cap spike by 30 to 35 percent in the next three years. Watson may want to wait for a spike in available dollars before signing for his generational money. Regardless, Watson will likely be a Texan forever, or at least through his prime, it's just a matter of what it will cost.
What type of backup do they look for?
A.J. McCarron, who was as traditional pro-style as it gets, compared to Watson, is a free agent once again, and it remains to be seen if the Texans bring him back on a similarly moderate deal to the one he signed for 2019 (one year, $3 million). The glut of available veteran quarterbacks could work to the Texans' favor, if they're looking for guys who've actually accomplished some things in the league. For example, what if Marcus Mariota wants to be a backup on a team where he's one injury away from being on a contender? What if Andy Dalton, who appears to be done in Cincinnati, wants to come back home to the Houston area? The Texans aren't in the market for a starter, but the supply of competent quarterbacks could mean a trickle down upgrade at backup QB.
Do they take a flyer on a QB in the draft?
The Texans are operating without a first round pick — not that they'd draft a quarterback in the first round, obviously — and some other holes in their draft board. Also, they have dwindling cap space. My point is that they need to try to make all of their picks count. The players they find in Day Two (second and third round) need to be early contributors on offense and defense, and the Day Three guys need to help on special teams and sub packages. In other words, they don't really have the draft cash to burn on a QB. Even if they did, it'd be an "on spec" project, and they don't really need to be working on one of those.