The Houston Texans have their back-up quarterback. Or potentially their starter, if Deshaun Watson gets his wish.
The Texans have reached an agreement with former Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a one-year deal worth nearly $6 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The deal reportedly contains incentives worth up to $12.5 million.
Taylor's deal gives the Texans a strong back-up behind Watson. The 31-year-old veteran was set to start in Los Angeles last year, until a Chargers team doctor reportedly punctured his lung while administering a pain-killing ejection for his cracked ribs during a game. That bizarre incident pushed sixth overall pick Justin Herbert into starting duty, and the rookie performed well enough to remain the starter when Taylor returned and win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Of course, $12.5 million would be much more than typical back-up quarterback money. It's "be ready to start in case we trade our franchise quarterback" money.
What does Tyrod Taylor mean for Deshaun Watson?
The way the Texans are currently positioned — coming off a 4-12 season with a star quarterback they insist they aren't trading — investing in a premium back-up QB doesn't make much sense. The team is one of many currently facing a salary cap crunch, has no draft picks in the first two rounds this year and has more than a few holes to fill around Watson.
Instead of acquiring a weapon for Watson or reinforcements for a depleted defense, the team signed Taylor. For one of the highest back-up QB salaries in the league, with even more in incentives. It's not hard to do the math there.
It has been nearly two months since Watson was reported to be seeking a trade from an organization that has been comically mismanaged over the last few years. The Texans have flatly refused to entertain the request, while Watson has also stuck to his guns. At the end of the day, the Texans have the leverage — if they refuse to trade Watson, he can either play or sit out and potentially remain under contract with Houston for an extra year — but it may be in their best interest to get a truckload of draft capital in exchange for a guy who doesn't want to play for them.
The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, owners of the second and third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, have been previously reported as Watson's preferred destinations. If the Texans make that happen, they now have a competent quarterback in Taylor to take over under center. Taylor also has experience playing ahead of the likes of Herbert and Baker Mayfield in the event they land, say, Zach Wilson or Justin Fields.
If the Texans keep Watson, however, you can only wonder why they thought investing such resources in a player at his own position would help things at all.
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