Today is March 31st. The fun of free agency ended a while back ago. Teams are making the occasional depth signings here and there, but most importantly, they are gearing up for the 2016 NFL Draft. Consequently, the Houston Texans' roster is pretty much complete aside from the young faces that will join the team via the draft or immediately after it.
When scrolling through the depth chart, there is one thing there that shouldn't be. Brian Hoyer is still on the roster. The playoff game against Kansas City marked the end of his time in Houston. In that game, the Texans lost 30-0. Brian Hoyer completed 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards, picked up 4.0 yards per attempt, took 7 sacks, threw 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, fumbled 2 times and lost 1, and had a QBR of 1.7. This was very bad. So bad that, Chase Stewart of Football Perspective pegged it as the fourth worst playoff performance of all time.
For the first time this offseason, the captains of obvious have let us in on a little secret--thanks to their unknown sources. The Texans and Brian Hoyer are going to split up.
Houston has two options. They can cut Hoyer or trade him. Personally, I was in favor of him being gone by now. More specifically, I was hoping he would be gone before free agency started. If Houston removed him from the roster along with Rahim Moore, Garrett Graham, and Arian Foster, it would have opened up an additional $5 million in cap space. That's a full-time starter. That's valuable with holes at safety, defensive end, wide receiver, tight end, and a need for more offensive line depth. If the Texans cut Hoyer, they could have brought in an average known while there were still plenty options available instead of dealing with the unknown of youth and flipping through the $5 DVDs in the paper sleeves at the front of the store once the draft was over.
That opportunity is gone. Now Brian Hoyer is a tax income check Houston is trying to squeeze a little bit more out of. Rick Smith is going to try and flip him for a late round pick. This is the exact thing they did with Ryan Fitzpatrick last year. Houston received a seventh round pick and shed $3.25 million in cap space for him to go play backup in New York, which turned into a sixth round pick after he held down the starting spot once Geno Smith got his face caved in. The Texans are looking to make the same type of trade again. They are looking to shed the $5 million Hoyer is owed this year, pick up a late pick to fail at special teams, and then use that space to add depth after the draft once the roster is even closer to finalization.
The only thing preventing this from happening is a team not wanting to offer anything for Hoyer and picking up his salary. Houston can, and will, be able to trade Hoyer. Both he and Fitzpatrick put up similar numbers during their time in Houston.
This isn't to say they are good. Both players are classic examples of when the numbers and film don't match up. They each have issues throwing deep unless the receivers can go-up-and-get-it. They are mistake prone, no matter where they went to college or who they backed up once upon a time. They can't hit a receiver in stride. Both make gritty scrambles, except Hoyer is like a Spider Man 3 on the gritty scale compared to Fitzpatrick's Sin City. Most importantly, they are both quarterbacks who are fine when the defense is suffocating offenses, the running game is going, and they can sit back and make throws at opportune times.
The fact the Texans can get value from them has more to say about what the league values than their skills. Teams want a backup quarterback who can be adequate and hold things down for a brief moment in time. They desire someone who is neutral, someone who won't win or lose a game. Fitzpatrick was this until he morphed into something more after playing with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Brian Hoyer is exactly this. They are perfect players to fill in when needed.
And often, they are needed. Quarterbacks get injured every year. Quarterbacks play terribly every year. If you look back at Week 17 last season, Ryan Mallett, Kellen Moore, Austin Davis, Blaine Gabbert (he's good by the way), Case Keenum, Josh Freeman, A.J. McCarron, and Colt McCoy all threw more than 20 passes that week. Terrible things happen to quarterbacks. There's always a need for a below-average known player.
Brian Hoyer is going to get traded and will probably end up starting somewhere next year when either a quarterback goes down, a training camp battle is won, or when he sits in a wobbly chair while a rookie quarterback sits back and learns stuff. The good news is that it won't happen in Houston this year. Sometime between now and the week after the draft, the Texans will save $5 million once he's shipped off to Timbuktu in exchange for a seventh round pick.