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Analysis: Would signing Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr actually make sense for the Texans?

Houston Chronicle 2/6/2023 Jonathan M. Alexander, Staff writer

One of the most important tasks for DeMeco Ryans as he prepares to take the Texans in a new direction is figuring out what to do at the quarterback position. 

It’s the biggest question this offseason after the Texans struggled to get any passing game going in 2022. The Texans’ three quarterbacks — Davis Mills, Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel — combined to throw 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and also lost five fumbles as Houston ranked 31st out of 32 teams in passing offense. 

Meanwhile, the two Super Bowl teams — the Chiefs and Eagles — have franchise-changing quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s own Jalen Hurts. Mahomes and Hurts are why their teams have been successful. 

Mills is entering the third year of his four-year rookie deal. And he’s the only quarterback on Houston’s roster under contract for next season. 

When asked how important the position is, Ryans said the Texans have to add more to the quarterback room, but the new head coach added a caveat. 

“We know everybody gets excited about the quarterback,” Ryans said last week at his introductory press conference. “The quarterback is one piece to a team. As I’ve seen in San Francisco, what happens when you don't have that one guy? Is the season over? Are you just booking it? No. How do you build around that quarterback? Yes, we want a great quarterback, but we need a great offensive line to protect the quarterback. 

“We need great running backs, great tight ends, great receivers. We need a great defense, special teams. We all play together. The awesome part about football is it's not on one guy's shoulders to go out there and win the game for us. It's all about building around each other and playing together. That's how we'll win games.” 

There’s a lot to unpack from Ryans’ answer. But what he’s essentially saying is the Texans have to build around the quarterback for him to be successful.  And that supplemental pieces are crucial, especially if the quarterback gets injured. That was the case for the 49ers as they went through three quarterbacks throughout the season and were still able to make it to the NFC Championship Game.

Drafting a quarterback at No. 2 makes the most sense for the Texans. It’s the most important position on the field. And Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Kentucky’s Will Levis could all be there at No. 2 unless another team trades up with the Bears.  

But there are also concerns about each, and the Texans could choose to pass on a QB with the second pick. They might fall in love with defensive tackle Jalen Carter or linebacker Will Anderson Jr., who could both certainly help with their poor run defense. They could also draft a quarterback at No. 2 and have him sit for a year.

In both of those cases, the Texans would likely need to sign a veteran quarterback in free agency. 

Last week, the NFL set the salary cap to $224.8 million. The Texans have the fourth-most cap space in the NFL at $37.5 million. That number will likely increase as they part ways with some players, meaning they are in a position to make a move or two this offseason if they wish. 

Two quarterbacks who have gotten a lot of attention and will continue to be a focus this offseason are Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. The Raiders and 49ers have made it clear they are moving away from them. And both are starters in this league. 

Here is a breakdown of both and whether they make sense for the Texans:

Jimmy Garoppolo 

Though they were on different sides of the ball, Garoppolo and Ryans were together in San Francisco since the 2017 season. Garoppolo arrived via trade, while Ryans was hired as a defensive quality control coach. So the two have some history. 

The 49ers attempted to trade Garoppolo last season but could not find a team willing to take on his contract or meet their asking price, which at one point was two second-round picks. The 49ers kept Garoppolo and restructured his contract for the final year. 

The nine-year veteran played well before his injury, passing for 2,437 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 67.2 percent of his passes in 11 games. The 49ers were 7-3 with him as the starter before a foot injury caused him to miss the remaining five weeks of the season and the playoffs. 

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear last week that he doesn't see any scenario in which Garoppolo would return. 

Garoppolo, a free agent, will likely want a long-term contract with his new team but might have to play on a two- or three-year prove-it deal because he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. League sources predict his market will be somewhere between $25 million and $30 million per year. 

There are negatives and positives to signing Garoppolo. 

Garoppolo isn’t viewed as a franchise quarterback. He’d be a rental and would take up a huge part of the Texans’ salary cap as they try to build in other areas. The Texans currently don’t have the pieces that could help him succeed. He’s struggled to stay healthy, and you have to wonder why the 49ers are so intent on moving on from him.  

But Garoppolo, 31, is a proven winner and is still fairly young for his position. He has a 40-17 record as a starter. He could help mentor the next franchise quarterback. 

Derek Carr 

The Raiders are in a bit of a tough situation with Carr, whom they drafted in 2014. Carr wants out. But if he is not traded by Feb. 15, the Raiders will owe him $40.4 million in guaranteed money. Carr told that he had no interest in extending the contract trigger deadline. It’s unlikely the Raiders would be willing to pay that money to a player who won’t be on their roster next season. 

So they’ll likely have to release him. And interested teams know that. 

That means Carr could be a free agent in a few days. The four-time Pro Bowler passed for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games in 2022. He completed 60.8 percent of his passes and had an 86.3 passer rating. 

His best year was in 2016, when he threw 28 touchdowns and six interceptions and finished third in the MVP race. Carr is 63-79 as a starter in his nine-year career.

Carr, 31, has a similar market to Garoppolo. He’ll command between $25 million and $30 million, per league sources, likely closer to the latter. He could be looking for a long deal, something the Texans likely wouldn’t offer, given their potential to land a franchise quarterback in the next two drafts and likely this one. Also, the difference between Carr and Garoppolo is that Carr seems less likely to take a temporary mentorship role. 

Carr will likely have a lot of interest from quarterback-needy teams that don’t have a high draft pick.  


While the Texans could theoretically sign Carr or Garoppolo, especially if one were willing to take on a mentorship role, other teams might be in direr situations than the Texans. The Saints, for instance, need a quarterback next year but don’t pick until No. 29. 

For them, finding a franchise quarterback in this draft is less likely. So they might be more willing to spend top dollar in free agency or even trade for Carr. 

Given their hefty price tags, signing Garoppolo or Carr also potentially hinders the Texans from signing free agents in other areas. They’d be smarter to draft one of the top quarterbacks with the second pick and sign a talented free agent or two in other areas of need. 

And the Texans have plenty of needs they can address. 

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