How many times have you thought the Texans were a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
Looking at the franchise’s 16-year history, my guess is that most of you would answer twice: during their run in the 2011 season, and during their 12-4 season in 2012. In both seasons, Houston came up short because of quarterback issues. Matt Schaub’s season abruptly ended in 2011 because of a foot injury, and he seemed to rapidly lose effectiveness after an overtime win over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.
If the Cowboys release Tony Romo, and the Texans sign him this offseason, even the most skeptical fans would have to admit that Romo represents a significant upgrade on Brock Osweiler. There’s a simple way to frame this: if Romo was healthy and on Houston’s roster in the divisional round playoffs in New England, the Texans would have had a legitimate chance to win that game. Osweiler destroyed their chances.
Take the Texans 2016 defense and add a star-level quarterback. The result is a team that should be a deep playoff contender.
Bill O’Brien is in year 4 of a 5-year contract, which is typically: contract-extension-or-fired territory. While the special teams need a substantial upgrade, the defense is good enough to win with right away.
Past Romo, or Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s difficult to find a quarterback who fits within the timetable of the Texans defense possibly playing at an elite level. Examining the draft, the Texans could be leaving their quarterback fate up to the decisions of the Browns, 49ers, Bears, and Jets. Those teams have gigantic holes at QB, and the latter three wouldn’t have a starter if you were to play a game this Sunday. While the QB draft class has been judged as mediocre, the combination of those teams, their draft picks, and their rosters could lead to some of the prospects being pushed towards the top of the board.
It’s early, but I’m already assuming that Mitch Trubisky will go fairly early, and it’s easy to see a QB-needy team falling in love with former Clemson QB Deshaun Watson. At that point, you’re left with the hope that other teams don’t start thinking about pulling the trigger to draft DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahomes.
There’s nothing wrong with the Texans selecting a Kizer or Mahomes with their first round pick, or taking a quarterback in later rounds. I support the idea. But barring a Dak Prescott-like improvement in the offseason, I don’t believe those prospects are ready to compete for the starting job immediately. In fact, if the Texans do take one of those 2 players, my hope would be that they won’t even see the field for their rookie season. That’s how much development they need.
By adding Romo, the Texans would have their starter for 2017, accounting for the gigantic ‘if’ of Romo’s health. The team can (and should) still draft a quarterback, but would do so without the pressure of having to make a move.
On the flip side, without adding an immediate impact option (Romo, Garoppolo), the Texans will most likely be stuck with the fate of drafting a developmental QB. They would go into the 2017 season holding a competition between Osweiler and Tom Savage. At this point, I believe that Savage would win the job. While I hold out some hope for him because of his physical traits, Savage has had a very strange history for a quarterback that could develop into a legitimate NFL starter. Basically, to contend, Houston would be banking on the defense playing at a level similar to that of the 2013 Seahawks, or the 2015 Broncos.
There are some viable concerns about Romo. He hasn’t played a (mostly) full season since 2014, and he could very well be breaking down as a mid-30s QB. The Texans would have to maneuver the salary cap just to add him, although Troy at texanscap.com laid out what appears to be a logical Houston contract for the veteran QB.
There are no slam-dunk solutions for the Texans this offseason at the NFL’s most important position. Romo will be available for a reason, and everyone would be holding their breath after every hit he would take on the field. However, given where the roster is, the potential for the defense, and the ability to add a developmental QB even after this type of move, signing Romo makes a ton of sense for the Texans.