As fun as it would be to shop at the top of the market for veteran quarterbacks, some of the names available on the open market or trade market simply don’t make sense for the Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, and Lamar Jackson aren’t coming to the Texans. The same could be said for Geno Smith and Daniel Jones. I suppose anything is technically possible, but chasing those particular players really does not make sense for the Texans or those quarterbacks.
The Texans are almost certainly drafting a quarterback with the number two overall pick. So, the veteran quarterback will have three key considerations. First, they must be better than Davis Mills. Secondly, the contract must make sense for someone that will eventually give the job to the rookie. While the third consideration isn’t an absolute requirement, it would also be nice if the veteran brings similar athletic skills as the rookie, so each can run the same offense seamlessly.
Teddy Bridgewater— Miami Dolphins (PFF #NR, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 2 years, $13 million
Bridgewater was the primary starter for four seasons with three different teams. He threw 61 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in those seasons. Arguably his best performance came as a backup in New Orleans when he nine touchdowns and two interceptions in five games. He went 5-0 in those games. He essentially a .500 quarterback, so he seems like a perfect hold down the fort kind of quarterback.
Jacoby Brissett— Cleveland Browns (PFF #33, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 2 years, $16 million
Brissett has the highest running grade (91.5 PFF) of any free agent quarterback. So, if athleticism is a bonus then he is the guy you’d want on this list. QB won loss records are overrated. There is a ton that goes into winning and losing in addition to the quarterback. He has a career 2-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. If you add in rushing touchdowns then he is a pretty decent stopgap while you are waiting for the rookie to be ready.
Andy Dalton— New Orleans Saints (PFF #NR, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $5 million
Dalton is essentially self-actualized Davis Mills at this point. He actually completed 66.7 percent of his passes and had a two to one touchdown to interception ratio last year. He officially has attended three Pro Bowls. He would be a great mentor for Mills as Mills probably will follow the career path Dalton has followed since leaving Cincinnati. Maybe he could help the rookie out too.
Sam Darnold— Carolina Panthers (PFF #NR, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $6 million
You can usually put these guys into two different piles. One pile has your veteran backups that really are no threat to start anymore. The other has young guys that may have washed out following their rookie contract. With Darnold the numbers say he belongs in the first group. His lofty draft status says he might be in the latter group. Stay tuned.
Jimmy Garappolo— San Francisco 49ers (PFF #26, NFL.com #26)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $15 million
This all depends on his options. Jimmy G probably wants to be a starter and there could be two or three teams that provide him that opportunity. This seems like a lot of money for a guy that you hope would be a backup. Who knows, maybe the market collapses for him and he has to take far less to get a job. Stranger things have happened, but I seriously doubt he is a realistic candidate.
Taylor Heinicke— Washington Commanders (PFF #NR, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $4 million
A .500 quarterback as a starter, Heinicke screams mediocre. However, as we have seen in Houston, you can do quite a bit with mediocrity. There is also worse than mediocre and we have seen plenty of that too. If you want better than Mills and someone that won’t break the bank you can do a heck of a lot worse.
Baker Mayfield— Los Angeles Rams (PFF #NR, NFL.com #NR)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $8 million
The contract above represents a best guess estimate. Mayfield was on his rookie deal last year and he likely wants a short-term prove it kind of contract so he can rebuild his stock. Mayfield wants to be a starting quarterback moving forward and you could certainly argue he deserves that opportunity. That probably means he goes somewhere else in a similar situation as Jimmy G. That is probably not in Houston, but it will be interesting to see what his market looks like.
Mike White— New York Jets (PFF #NR, NFL.com #51)
Possible Contract: 1 year, $5 million
He’s here because NFL.com saw it fit to rank him amongst their best free agents. I suppose one could argue that the Jets’ offense has been dysfunctional the past two seasons, so maybe he will be better in a functional environment. Imagine calling the Texans a functional environment. If we suspend disbelief we could consider him as a possible upgrade over Davis Mills.
The Final Verdict
The Texans are only going as far as the rookie quarterback takes them. Some of these quarterbacks would represent a significant upgrade over the Davis Mills experience, but would logically be similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bobby Hoyer. So, the cheapest guy likely gets the job. If Nick Caserio is investing more than ten million dollars in a backup he is making a serious mistake.