There is a “growing push” within the Houston Texans’ building to sign free-agent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, according to a report from CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones. The report indicates Garoppolo would start the 2023 campaign while a rookie quarterback is being groomed on the bench. The idea has more merit than most will initially believe.
Garoppolo has a trio of connections to Houston’s new regime. Former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is Houston’s new head coach. Ryans spent six seasons (2017-22) alongside Garoppolo in San Francisco.
Ryans hired ex-49ers assistant Bobby Slowik as his new offensive coordinator. Slowik spent the same six seasons with Garoppolo via various offensive roles, including stints as a passing-game specialist and coordinator. Texans general manager Nick Caserio was New England’s director of player personnel when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014. Houston has a clear need at quarterback—the Texans are going to explore signing Garoppolo.
The Texans own the No. 2 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re expected to draft one of Bryce Young, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, or C.J. Stroud. They’ll draft a quarterback even if they sign Garoppolo. There’s no reason the two parties can’t coexist with Garoppolo serving as a short-term bridge-type quarterback.
Caserio may have to execute a trade-up with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall selection in order to land his preferred target. Alternatively, the Texans may draft their top-ranked quarterback with the second overall choice. General managers will possess varying opinions on a quarterback class that did little to separate themselves at the NFL Scouting Combine. Either outcome does little to impact their approach for Garoppolo.
Are the Texans “ready” to draft (and more importantly, start) a rookie quarterback? It’s a fair question worth asking given the current lackluster state of the roster. The Texans require multiple upgrades both offensively and defensively. There should be a legitimate fear of “ruining” a rookie signal-caller behind an offensive line that requires more talent, not to mention the lack of proven pass-catchers. Defensively, there are holes at every level.
The Texans are expected to trade veteran receiver Brandin Cooks this summer. Houston’s starting quarterback in 2023 will likely be inheriting a rookie receiver alongside John Metchie III and Nico Collins. Bellcow running back Dameon Pierce adds some stability, but more is needed at the playmaking positions.
Houston’s potential initiative to sign Garoppolo shouldn’t be scoffed at so long as they still plan on drafting a quarterback. In fact, if things play out that way, Houston deserves praise for acknowledging their positioning. The Texans should only be criticized if they view Garoppolo as their quarterback of the future by bypassing the opportunity to draft one of these talented signal-callers.
Houston’s roster will almost certainly be better prepared to insert an inexperienced quarterback under center in 2024. The Texans possess 12 selections in April and approximately $41.7 million to spend in free agency, per Spotrac. The 2023 campaign will be a foundational-building one for an organization that remains under construction.
There’s nothing wrong with protecting their impending investment at quarterback by allowing a well-prepared veteran to take the bumps before gracefully welcoming a face-of-the-franchise talent into the fold. That’s why the Texans are exploring their options. Garoppolo can play that underrated role in Houston while Caserio continues building a more appropriate supporting cast.
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