What’s next for the Texans if not Tony Romo?

If Houston misses out on top target Romo, the team could turn to free agency, the draft, or the guy they still have hanging around, says Vinnie Ronca.

| 3 months ago
(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Tim Warner/Getty Images)

What’s next for the Texans if not Tony Romo?

With the Brock Osweiler experiment officially over in Houston, the Texans once again find themselves in need of a starting quarterback. All indications are that Houston will make a run at quarterback Tony Romo if and when the Cowboys finally cut him loose. If that plan materializes, the Texans would find themselves in a favorable situation with a top-end starter (when healthy) under center backed by one of the best defenses in the league.

There is of course the possibility that Romo is traded, signs elsewhere or even retires. What then for the Texans?

Let’s take a look at some other options the Texans should explore if things don’t go as planned in their pursuit of Tony Romo.

Target another veteran free agent

This year’s free agent crop won’t provide any long-term answers at quarterback for the Texans, but Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick are among a few intriguing options that could be solid stopgaps until Houston finds their own franchise QB.

Jay Cutler

Cuter reportedly has interest in joining the Texans, but whether that feeling is mutual is yet to be seen. He remains one of the more talented QBs in the league but has a definite boom-or-bust element to his game. While he’s actually been fairly accurate over his career (adjusted completion rate over 70 percent each of his last five seasons), Texans coach Bill O’Brien may want a more stable option under center following last year’s experience.


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(*BTT – PFF’s highest-graded throws, usually more difficult, or further downfield, potentially into tighter windows. Throws that have great timing and accuracy.
*TWT – Dangerous passes thrown into coverage, due to either poor decision making or inaccuracy, that should be intercepted whether the defensive player makes the play or not.)

Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick has finished in the bottom 10 of QB grades in each of the last two seasons, making it easy to forget that just a few years ago he was considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. While he offers big play ability, Kaepernick’s accuracy remains a concern as he’s topped a 70 percent adjusted completion rate just twice in his career. He’s been outstanding when given a clean pocket to throw from but has consistently struggled when facing pressure, something that probably doesn’t bode well playing behind a Texans offensive line that surrendered the sixth most pressures in the league last season.

Year Rating When Kept Clean Rating Under Pressure
2016 98.7 75.0
2015 93.1 43.7
2014 94.4 64.8
2013 98.3 62.5
2012 114.8 53.0

Give Tom Savage his shot

The Texans drafted Tom Savage in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, hoping he may develop into a long-term starter down the road. When Brock Osweiler got benched late last season, Savage finally got his opportunity. In the two games where he played significant snaps, Savage had a 90.06 PFF QB Rating, a 72.1 percent adjusted completion rate and was accurate on 86.4 percent of his passes under pressure – all very promising signs for the young QB.

Tom Savage passes by direction:

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Unfortunately for Savage and the Texans, a routine quarterback sneak in Week 17 resulted in a concussion for their newfound starter and they were forced to turn back to Osweiler.

Now the Texans must decide whether Savage showed enough in those two games to warrant handing him the starting job heading into the 2017 season. While there is definite promise there, it would be a huge gamble for Bill O’Brien and crew to hang their hat on the unproven Savage in what may be a defining year for the staff.

Draft a quarterback early

The Texans haven’t invested higher than a fourth-round pick on a quarterback since drafting Dave Ragone in the third round of the 2003 draft. Let that sink in. Combine that reality with the constant uncertainty that has surrounded their quarterback position in recent seasons, and it might just be time for the Texans to target a signal-caller with their top pick in this year’s draft. Of course, they’ll likely have to trade up from their current spot at No. 25 in the first round in order to land one of the top QBs, but that may be the bold move they have to make.

This year’s draft class doesn’t have a consensus No. 1 quarterback, but there is still a ton of talent at the top.

Player Adjusted Comp % Adjusted Comp % vs Pressure Deep Pass Adjusted Comp %
Mitchell Trubisky 75.1% 66.7% 42.3%
Deshaun Watson 76.1% 64.3% 47.3%
Patrick Mahomes II 75.4% 56.1% 44.0%
DeShone Kizer 68.0% 59.5% 39.3%

(For more in-depth stats and analysis on this year’s draft class, check out PFF’s 2017 Draft Pass.)

While each of the draft’s top four QB prospects have franchise quarterback-level potential, they all have some major inconsistencies to their game as well. If the Texans do decide to draft their future quarterback in round one, they will ideally be able to sit him for most if not all of his rookie season until he’s ready to take the reins. All the more reason why finding a capable veteran quarterback this offseason should be priority one for Bill O’Brien and his staff.

Vinnie joined PFF as an analyst in 2015. College football will be his primary focus throughout the season.

  • crosseyedlemon

    If the Texans want Romo they will have to trade for him and at best that is going to be maybe a one year bandaid solution. Cutler would only be a stop gap measure as well. Kaepernick is high risk and might be no better than what they had with Osweiler. Drafting a QB this year gets them a prospect from a weak class who will need a few years to hit his stride…and by that time the defense may be a shadow of what it is now.
    If Houston is really a championship contender (and I’m not buying that) then their best move would be to trade J.J Watt for an established QB who can get them a title now. They should be looking at someone like Joe Flacco who has proven all through his career that he can win when he has decent defenses supporting him.

    • Norwegian Texans Fan

      Stop trying to imply Texans should trade JJ, he might be the most valuable player in the league, especially whe you consider his contract. IF we were to trade him, we could certainly do a lot better then Joe Flacco, and even then you would have to throw in other assets like draft picks.

      • crosseyedlemon

        No one is talking about Watt being the best defensive player anymore. He is still a top player but from here on he will be trending downward due to injuries he’s suffered. Texans should move him while they can still get solid value for him. Houston can do better than a guy who has 2 title rings? The Osweiler deal proves they are basically clueless when it comes to evaluating QBs.

        • Cory

          What 2 titles has Flacco won? Perhaps you think he was the QB on both Ray Lewis Ravens title teams?

    • McGeorge

      What team will trade an established QB for JJ Watt? Which QBs do you define as established?

    • Cory

      “If the Texans want Romo they will have to trade for him”

      So you are certain Dallas will not release him if no team makes a trade offer? That’s a lot of money for a backup that is starting to distance himself from the organization.

    • Dustin Millstid

      1) Your belief that trading for Romo is the only way to have him shows your complete lack of credibility in all things football.
      2) Trade Watt for Flacco? (see above)
      3) Trading Watt for any type of “win now” qb insinuates that said qb is either past his prime or on his way. So, you’d mortgage the 2-4 years of elite play left in Watt for an aging qb that guarantees nothing? Even in 4 yrs, a past his all-time prime Watt is still better than 80% of DEs in the league, paired with still in their prime versions of Clowney, Mercilus, and McKinney gives you a top 3 in the league front 7. By this time, the qb they will draft this year has had more than enough time to hit his stride. Your logic is flawed, sir.

  • Rolo Tomassi

    The best option for this season is Jay Cutler. He can be good as long as you have Defense and a running game.
    Plus I don’t Kapernick is allowed anywhere near Texas