Case Keenum

Texans’ C.J. Stroud Ruled Out; QB In Play To Return In Week 17

DECEMBER 24: Although the Texans will officially be without their starting quarterback for a second straight week, he has a decent chance to come back on New Year’s Eve. Stroud’s symptoms are subsiding, per Wilson, who adds he has a decent chance of resuming some football activities this week. The Ohio State product has indeed shown progress while in concussion protocol, and’s Adam Schefter indicates there is optimism about a return for the team’s Week 17 game against the Titans.

DECEMBER 20: The Texans made an unexpected switch for Week 15, moving to Case Keenum rather than Davis Mills. That depth chart adjustment is likely to be relevant once again for the surprise playoff contender.

C.J. Stroud is not expected to return in Week 16, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. The Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite is still experiencing symptoms from the concussion he suffered against the Jets, with Wilson adding sensitivity to light remains an issue for the No. 2 overall pick.

Stroud will not be cleared for practice Wednesday. The Texans added recent Jets starter Tim Boyle to their practice squad Tuesday. Boyle, who started two games for the Jets before being waived a day after the latter start, now sits behind Keenum and Mills among healthy Houston quarterbacks.

While Stroud’s season is likely to continue, it is obviously a concern he is on track to remain in concussion protocol for a second game. That said, Stroud’s health is obviously paramount here. The Texans toiled in anonymity during the two-year period between Deshaun Watson‘s QB1 run and Stroud’s arrival. They are in this surprising 8-6 spot largely because of the pick they made in April. The Texans have a 51.5% chance to make the playoffs, per ESPN’s FPI. They face the Browns, who carried Keenum as their backup from 2020-21, on Sunday.

Keenum, 35, piloted Houston to an overtime win over Tennessee. The journeyman QB agreed to return to Houston in March, and the Texans rebuffed trade inquiries on he and Mills this year. The team viewed Keenum as a quality Stroud mentor, though Mills was believed to be in place as the backup prior to Week 15. Attached to a two-year, $6.25MM deal, the former Texans UDFA now has 65 career starts under his belt.

Texans Sign QB Tim Boyle To Practice Squad

With C.J. Stroud still sitting in concussion protocol, the Texans are adding some depth to the quarterback room. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston, the Texans are signing quarterback Tim Boyle to the practice squad.

Stroud suffered his concussion during Houston’s Week 14 loss to the Jets. Per Wilson, the second-overall pick still has concussion symptoms, putting his status for this weekend’s game against Cleveland in doubt. If the rookie can’t play, veteran Case Keenum is expected to get another start against his former team. Keenum started for Houston this past weekend and helped guide the team to an overtime win over the Titans.

Considering Stroud’s uncertainty, the Texans have been in the market for some QB help. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Texans tried to claim Nathan Rourke after he was waived by the Jaguars. The Patriots won the waiver claim battle, forcing the Texans to look elsewhere.

Boyle joins the Texans after having spent the first part of his 2023 campaign with the Jets. Initially brought in as a familiar backup to Aaron Rodgers, Boyle ended up getting inserted into the lineup in the middle of the season. The Jets went winless in his two starts, and in three games, the QB tossed one touchdown vs. four interceptions. After starting his career in Green Bay, Boyle went winless in three starts with the Lions in 2021. He got into one game for Chicago in 2022, tossing a pair of interceptions in eight pass attempts.

It’s unlikely Boyle sees any playing time in Houston, assuming Stroud sees the field again before the season is done. Even with the rookie out of the lineup, the veteran would be the QB3 behind Keenum and former starter Davis Mills.

Texans To Start Case Keenum In Week 15

Davis Mills has dressed as the Texans’ backup quarterback each week this season with C.J. Stroud operating as the starter. The latter is out for Sunday’s game, though, which led to the expectation Mills would be elevated to the No. 1 role on a temporary basis.

Instead, Houston will give the nod to Case Keenum. As first reported by Aaron Wilson of KPRC2, the veteran is now in line to start after spending every game in 2023 as the Texans’ emergency third-stringer. Keenum last started during a two-game stint with the Browns. His only action since then was a pair of appearances last season with the Bills, during which he attempted a total of seven passes.

Given that light workload, along with Mills’ familiarity with the Texans, the move comes as something of a surprise. Mills started 26 games between 2021-22 after joining the team as a third-rounder. Despite a 2-9 record as a rookie, the Stanford product flashed potential at times, earning the No. 1 role in his second campaign. A regression proved an upgrade under center would be needed in the offseason, however, leading to the decision to draft Stroud second overall in April.

Stroud’s highly impressive rookie campaign has been interrupted by a concussion, leaving the Texans with a decision to make in the heart of a playoff push. Mills and Keenum split first-team reps during the week, Bien-Aime adds, so today’s news points to the latter having impressed over the past few days. Keenum has made 64 starts in his career, which began in 2013 with Houston.

The former UFDA has posted a winning record only twice in a season, though, leaving him to bounce around the NFL over the course of his tenure. The 35-year-old was viewed by some as a luxury in the Texans’ QB room given Mills’ continued presence and the addition of Stroud in the draft. The team made it clear they were not looking to trade him in advance of the deadline, a stance which has now proven to be quite signficant.

Houston is one of six AFC teams which entered Week 15 with a 7-6 record and thus in position to compete for a wild-card spot. The Texans are also one game behind the Jaguars for the lead in the AFC South, leaving plenty to play for on Sunday. Head coach DeMeco Ryans has expressed optimism about Stroud’s progress in recovering from the concussion, so he could return in time for Week 16. For now, though, the Texans’ offense will rely on Keenum’s ability to perform in his season debut.

Texans Informing Teams They Want To Keep Case Keenum

Trade rumors have come up regarding both of the Texans’ reserve quarterbacks. Davis Mills emerged as a potential exit candidate this offseason, following the Case Keenum signing. With Mills still with the team, Keenum has also come up.

The Patriots pursued Keenum late this summer, a move that would have reunited the ex-Texans UDFA and returning Pats OC Bill O’Brien. But the AFC East team soon went with Matt Corral via waivers. That partnership proved fleeting; Corral is already off the team, and Will Grier joins Bailey Zappe as a Mac Jones backup.

It is not known if New England made an offer, but Houston would prefer to keep the veteran backup. The Texans have informed teams they like Keenum as a C.J. Stroud mentor, per’s Albert Breer. Keenum’s mentorship of Stroud has pleased the Texans to the point they want to have him around throughout the Ohio State product’s rookie season.

A University of Houston alum who caught on with the Texans in 2013, Keenum started 10 games for the team over the next two seasons. He then embarked on one of this NFL period’s most noteworthy journeyman careers, venturing to St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Denver, Washington, Cleveland and Buffalo. The 64 career starts would make Keenum an attractive emergency option for a team in need. The Jets represent a logical suitor, but they have only contacted Colt McCoy and the recently retired Chad Henne in the wake of Aaron Rodgers‘ Achilles tear.

The Texans gave Keenum a two-year, $6.25MM deal early in the legal tampering period. Keenum’s $4MM guarantee figure did not top the likes of Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett or Marcus Mariota for QB2 guarantees this offseason, but it did check in above Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew, Cooper Rush and Teddy Bridgewater. Since Keenum was benched in Washington in 2019, he has primarily operated as a backup. He won both his starts with the Browns (in 2021) and has been a sought-after reserve since his midcareer starter run ceased.

Houston holding both Keenum and Mills (26 starts from 2021-22) does provide a bit of an opportunity for the rebuilding team ahead of the Oct. 31 trade deadline, as many other clubs cannot match the Texans’ backup surplus. Trade inquiries indeed came in just after teams cut their rosters to 53. This will be a team to watch as a potential seller, but for now, the 11th-year vet and 2021 third-round pick sit behind Stroud.

Patriots Looked Into Trade For Texans QB Case Keenum

As the Patriots made the surprising decision to waive Bailey Zappe, they spent a multi-day period with one active-roster quarterback. With versatile UDFA Malik Cunningham also cut, Mac Jones resided alone on the depth chart until the Matt Corral pickup.

While the Pats have Corral positioned behind Jones (technically), Zappe remains in the mix to be the backup. But the team had also targeted a more experienced option to help mentor its third-year starter. In addition to Colt McCoy being on the Patriots’ radar,’s Albert Breer notes the team looked into acquiring Case Keenum from the Texans.

The Texans brought Keenum back to Houston, after the ex-Cougars standout embarked on a journeyman career upon leaving his original NFL team in 2015, on a two-year deal worth $6.25MM ($4MM guaranteed). This looked to be a sign GM Nick Caserio, who hired a third coaching staff in three years, would look to move two-year starter Davis Mills. But Mills, despite multiple rounds of trade rumors, remains in Houston as C.J. Stroud‘s backup. Keenum sits as the team’s third-stringer.

A report last week indicated the Texans’ backups were generating trade interest, and with the Pats targeting a veteran and Caserio having spent nearly 20 years with the franchise, the dots certainly connect here.

Keenum, 35, has completed a four-time zone journey by stopping through St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Denver, Washington, Cleveland and Buffalo since 2015. While Keenum’s post-Vikings career effectively made his 2017 season — which featured a No. 1 QB DVOA ranking, a 13-3 Vikes record and an NFC championship game berth — an outlier, the former UDFA has remained coveted as a backup. Keenum quarterbacked the Browns to two wins during the 2021 season; those two starts ran his career total to 64.

Once Corral became available, however, Breer adds the Patriots regrouped and scrapped their previous plan of a veteran QB2. Patriots senior personnel advisor Pat Stewart, an offseason hire, was with the Panthers as their VP of player personnel from 2020-22. That tenure included the Panthers’ trade-up with the Patriots for Corral, a raw prospect out of Ole Miss. The Pats had explored Corral via trade as well, per Breer, who adds Bill O’Brien‘s good relationship with Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin also led to the decision to submit the claim.

Three years remain on Corral’s rookie contract; he missed all of last season with a Lisfranc injury. It will be interesting to see if the second-year passer’s form prompts the Patriots to circle back to their interest in a veteran backup before the Halloween trade deadline. After Brian Hoyer went down last season, Bill Belichick stuck with Zappe. But the former record-setting Western Kentucky QB struggled in O’Brien’s offense this year. For now, Zappe represents the most logical Jones backup to start the season. But this situation is clearly not settled entering the year.

Texans’ Reserve QBs Drawing Trade Interest

Although the Texans’ Case Keenum signing appeared to place Davis Mills in limbo, the two-year starter took first-team reps this offseason and landed on Houston’s 53-man roster. With the team moving to C.J. Stroud for Week 1, interest in both backups has emerged.

Teams have contacted the Texans on their two backup quarterbacks, Dianna Russini of The Athletic notes. But Houston’s plan for now is to keep both Keenum and Mills on its roster. The Texans gave Keenum a two-year, $6.25MM deal; two years remain on Mills’ rookie contract.

The Keenum addition undoubtedly led to the Mills trade rumors earlier this year, but the Texans’ stance at that point was to retain the former third-round pick. Stroud will unseat Mills, who is 5-19-1 as a starter (albeit on some undermanned teams), and Keenum would seem to represent both a mentor and a capable backup. Mills, 24, would be an interesting flier for a team to take. Even if the Texans are open to moving the Stanford alum, no viable offer has emerged.

Two teams who could be interested reside in the AFC East. The Patriots made the surprising choice to waive Bailey Zappe on Tuesday. The 2022 fourth-rounder had generated momentum to potentially even challenge Mac Jones for his job this offseason; no realistic challenge occurred. As of now, Jones is the only QB on New England’s active roster. That will not be the case for too much longer, and the Patriots are believed to be targeting Colt McCoy. Indeed, a veteran QB2 is preferred, per the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi.

Meanwhile, the Bills placed Matt Barkley on IR on Tuesday, removing him from their regular-season equation. Buffalo rosters only Kyle Allen, who spent most of last season backing up Mills in Houston, behind Josh Allen. Keenum spent the 2022 season in Buffalo, but the Houston alum agreed to terms with the Texans — his original NFL team — on Day 1 of the legal tampering period.

Texans To Bring Back QB Case Keenum

Case Keenum is coming back to Houston. After beginning his career with the Texans, Keenum — per veteran Houston reporter John McClain — is returning to the team.

A former Texans UDFA back in 2013, Keenum has journeyed the country as a starter and a backup. He is now coming back to Houston, where he played his college ball, on what looks like a bridge agreement. It is a two-year contract, McClain notes.

Keenum, 34, will come back for $6.25MM, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. He will collect $4MM guaranteed. This agreement should be expected to precede a Texans quarterback pick at No. 2 overall. Houston has not made a serious investment at the position since Deshaun Watson‘s off-field trouble surfaced.

Since leaving Houston back in 2016, Keenum has played in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Denver, Washington, Cleveland and Buffalo. Although he was DVOA’s top-rated quarterback in 2017, when he replaced Sam Bradford and took the Vikings on a stunning ride to the NFC championship game, Keenum has mostly filled in as a backup or bridge starter as a pro. He began that run with 10 starts for the Texans from 2013-14.

Most recently, Keenum got into two games as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo during the 2022 campaign. He last started a game in 2021 when he earned two starts for the Browns. In those two games, the veteran completed 38 of his 57 pass attempts for 375 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The Browns were 2-0 in those two games.

Restructured Deals: Packers, Broncos, Bills, Patriots, Giants

As free agency continues, teams will keep finding ways to open up additional cap. We’ve had a handful of reworked contracts in recent days, which we’ve compiled below:

  • The Packers opened $10.15MM in cap space by restructuring the contracts of wideout Randall Cobb (which was previously reported) and safety Adrian Amos, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). ESPN’s Rob Demovsky tweets that Green Bay turned $5.88MM of Amos’ $7MM base salary into a signing bonus and added four void years.
  • The Broncos opened up some space via a pair of restructured deals. Wideout Tim Patrick converted $6.9MM of his roster bonus into a signing bonus, creating around $4.6MM in cap space, per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter). The Broncos also converted receiver Courtland Sutton‘s $10.5MM roster bonus into a signing bonus, saving $7.875MM in 2022 cap space, per Klis (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers converted $11.765MM of wideout Robby Anderson’s 2022 pay into a signing bonus, creating $5.88MM in cap space, per Yates (on Twitter). Staying in the NFC, Yates also tweets that the Eagles converted $14.88MM of cornerback Darius Slay’s salary into a signing bonus, creating $11.90MM in 2022 cap space.
  • The Giants converted $2.63MM of kicker Graham Gano’s salary into a bonus, creating $1.753MM in cap space, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). The team also added a void year to the contract, something GM Joe Schoen was trying to avoid (per Raanan).
  • After getting traded to the Bills, quarterback Case Keenum agreed to rework his contract. Per Yates (on Twitter), Keenum reduced his base salary to $3.5MM. Another AFC East team, the Patriots, also got into the game, reducing defensive end Henry Anderson‘s base salary from $2.5MM to $1.25MM (per Yates).
  • Yates passes along three more restructures (on Twitter): the Vikings opened $6MM in cap space by reworking safety Harrison Smith‘s contract, the Bills opened $5.172MM via linebacker Matt Milano‘s contract, and the Titans opened $6.45MM via linebacker Zach Cunningham‘s contract.

Bills Sign QB Matt Barkley

After spending the 2021 season playing elsewhere, Matt Barkley has landed back in Buffalo. The Bills announced that they’ve signed the quarterback to a one-year contract.

[RELATED: Bills To Acquire Browns QB Case Keenum]

The journeyman had his longest career stint with the Bills, spending two-plus seasons with the organization. He saw time in eight games (one start) during his time in Buffalo, completing 54.6 percent of his passes for 788 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.

He signed a two-year contract with the Titans last offseason but didn’t make it to the regular season, and he later spent the 2021 campaign with the Panthers and Falcons. Barkley previously spent time with the Eagles, Cardinals (two stints), Bears, 49ers, and Bengals.

The Bills have Josh Allen sitting atop their depth chart, and they acquired veteran Case Keenum from the Browns last week. However, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweeted at the time, a Barkley move was anticipated even when the organization acquired Keenum. In other words, it sounds like the two acquisitions will be fighting it out to replace Mitchell Trubisky as the No. 2 QB in Buffalo next season.

Bills To Acquire Browns QB Case Keenum

It looks like the Browns will be making three quarterback trades this offseason. They are sending Case Keenum to the Bills in exchange for a seventh-round pick, Tom Pelissero of tweets.

Cleveland’s stunning Deshaun Watson deal will lead to a full-on reshaping of the team’s QB room. The Browns are expected to follow the Watson and Keenum trades with a Baker Mayfield swap. As of Saturday afternoon, Mayfield remains on the team. The disgruntled former No. 1 overall pick will be elsewhere to start the 2022 season.

[RELATED: Browns To Sign Jacoby Brissett]

The Bills lost 2021 backup Mitchell Trubisky to the Steelers in free agency. Keenum, 33, is now poised to take over as Josh Allen‘s understudy. After receiving starter work with the Vikings, Broncos and Washington from 2017-19, Keenum resettled as a backup in Cleveland, working behind Mayfield for the past two seasons. Keenum led the league in QB DVOA in 2017, piloting Minnesota to the NFC championship game, but crashed back to earth in Denver and Washington. He made two starts in Cleveland, both in 2021, with the Browns winning both games.

The Browns are bracing for a Watson suspension, which would thrust Brissett into the spotlight. Given their Watson investment, the Browns are expecting to be a Super Bowl contender soon. Keenum’s replacement will be important to those prospects, regardless if Watson’s suspension hits in 2022 or 2023.

Allen has not missed a start since his 2018 rookie season, which began with the superstar signal-caller on the bench. One season, with a $6.1MM base salary, remains on Keenum’s contract. It would not surprise to see the Bills give their new QB2 an extension to reduce his 2022 cap number.