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Football Outsiders: Houston Texans Should Bring Ryan Fitzpatrick Back

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What? Who? Why? Things are bleak in Houston, but is this really a good idea? Battle Red Blog explores the notion.

Gritty.
Gritty.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone recognizes that the Houston Texans need to address the quarterback position. Most believe that'll happen via the 2016 NFL Draft, but there has been some discussion about the Texans pursuing a QB through free agency. With regard to that latter possibility, Aaron Schatz and Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders put together a list suggesting a single "bold move" for each NFL team that they couched as follows:

Football Outsiders is suggesting a bold move for each team. Some of these are realistic; others are more farfetched, but each would provide a significant change and improve a team's chances of winning future Super Bowls.

FO suggests your Houston Texans re-sign a quarterback they jettisoned less than a year ago.

Houston Texans: Bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick.

No, seriously. In retrospect, the Texans made a big mistake by sending Fitzpatrick to the Jets last March in return for a conditional draft pick. The move seemed reasonable at the time. Fitzpatrick had career-best numbers for the Texans in 2014, but he certainly looked unlikely to repeat that performance in 2015. And the Texans didn't think they needed him; they were ready to give the starting quarterback job to one of the quarterbacks that head coach Bill O'Brien had worked with in New England, either Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett.

A year later, things look much different. Fitzpatrick posted career-best numbers in 2015. His 63.6 QBR ranked 12th in the league, marking his third straight year with a QBR above 50. In Football Outsiders' DVOA, Fitzpatrick ranked 14th at 3.5 percent above average. Fitzpatrick had never put up above-average DVOA his whole career until 2014, and now has done it two straight years.

The Texans have a good enough defense to make the postseason again in 2016, but better offensive performance would help. That means a new quarterback. It's unlikely any prospect available when Houston picks at No. 22 will be ready to start as a rookie, so the Texans will need a veteran who can start for a couple of years while a rookie develops.

Re-enter Fitzpatrick, who is once again a free agent. The Texans already know he can succeed in their offense. In fact, they know he can play better in their offense than Hoyer or Mallett. And it's unlikely the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick will cost as much as free-agent quarterbacks who are still in their 20s, such as Kirk Cousins, Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford.

While I imagine the majority of the Houston fan base would, in theory, welcome Fitzpatrick back with open arms, especially with the debacle that was Brian Hoyer's five turnover performance against the Chiefs in the wild card round, it ain't happening. First off, odds are that the Jets re-sign Fitzpatrick. Second, Ryan Fitzpatrick, solid as he was for most of 2015, is no savior. Let's not forget that Fitzpatrick is the same guy who was benched in favor of Ryan Mallett in 2014. Had Mallett not seen his 2014 season end due to a pectoral injury, Fitzpatrick may (probably?) not have seen the field for the Texans again. It strains credulity to think the Texans would (1) try to sell yet another stop-gap quarterback solution to the fan base and (2) re-sign a QB they thought was a worse option than Ryan Mallett, a player they outright released, less than a year after trading him.

That's my thought, anyway. What's yours? Regardless, feel free to check out the rest of Football Outsiders' suggestions for each AFC team by clicking here (note that it is behind a paywall on ESPN Insider).