Texans Considering Round 2 QBs; Baker Mayfield, Jimmy Garoppolo On Radar?

Although Lovie Smith voiced support for Davis Mills early in the offseason, GM Nick Caserio was noncommittal about the second-year QB’s starter status going forward. Everything Houston has thus far done points to Mills receiving another opportunity, but the team may make a late entrance to the quarterback market.

The Texans considered the prospect of trading back into Round 1 for Malik Willis, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Houston, which also liked Kenny Pickett, holds the fifth pick in Friday’s second round (No. 37 overall). Willis’ fall opens the door to a potential investment for a Texans team that can certainly afford to give a rookie quarterback a redshirt season, given where the Caserio-led franchise is on its rebuild track.

This draft producing the first one-QB first round since 2013 opens the door to teams making lower-cost investments tonight. Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, who is on the Saints’ radar, and Desmond Ridder qualify as potential second-round picks. North Carolina’s Sam Howell may well go off the board tonight as well. The Buccaneers, Vikings, Titans and Giants pick in front of the Texans in Round 2. There are some QB landmine spots here for Houston, which runs the risk of missing out on its preferred second-day passer by standing pat.

Should the Texans not take a quarterback tonight, two veterans are available in trades. The team is likely to explore a Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo addition, Howe adds. This would seem contingent on Houston not drafting Willis or another QB in Round 2. While the Texans are still fine with running Mills back out there in 2022 and did not consider drafting a passer with either of their first-round picks Thursday, per Howe, the team is not committed just yet.

The Panthers and Seahawks have been connected to Mayfield, with the former a bit more closely linked. Garoppolo’s market has yet to take shape, with the longtime 49ers starter still rehabbing from surgery on his throwing shoulder. The Texans were not interested in Mayfield when they traded Deshaun Watson to the Browns, but Howe adds the expectation of Cleveland needing to eat some of the QB’s fifth-year option salary ($18.9MM) has changed the equation. The 49ers’ asking price for Garoppolo remains too high for the Texans, however, though Caserio’s time with the ex-Tom Brady backup in New England does create a logical connection here — Garoppolo’s desire to end up with a contender notwithstanding.

Another wrinkle here is the 49ers’ willingness to keep Garoppolo through training camp. That could put the former Super Bowl starter in position to need another team’s QB injury to prompt a trade. Absent a reasonable offer, the 49ers are willing to carry Garoppolo’s salary ($26.9MM cap number) to camp, per Howe. This would hinder their ability to extend Deebo Samuel or Nick Bosa, but Garoppolo doubles as an insurance policy in case Trey Lance is not ready to take over.

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