Texans seem happy with Davis Mills as quarterback

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Three months before Deshaun Watson was traded to the Browns, Davis Mills completed a rookie season in which he started 11 games for the Texans.

Two months before a mega-deal giving the Texans six draft picks officially made Mills the first caller on the roster, Houston had retained and promoted Pep Hamilton from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator in part to ensure the pick’s progression. third round of the franchise in 2021. .

Every action the Texans have taken so far this offseason points to Mills as their starter in 2022, though general manager Nick Caserio and coach Lovie Smith have played coy on their quarterback situation locally.

Caserio signed Kyle Allen this month to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Allen, who was not drafted from Texas A&M, had moderate success as a Carolina starter in 2019. But the Panthers acquired a fifth-round pick by trading him to Washington, where he saw a minimal playing time as a reserve in a position group crowded with substitutes. .

Allen and Jeff Driskel, who moved briefly last year in a bid to extend his career, make up the rest of Houston’s quarterback room — a stark difference in tenure from last season, when the veteran 10-year-old Tyrod Taylor started the year as the team’s starting quarterback before being relegated twice for Mills due to injury and inconsistent play.

The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain discusses the changing dynamics in the AFC South, the impact on the Texans and his takeaways from Deshaun Watson’s introductory press conference in Cleveland. Video: Houston Chronicle

It’s uncertain whether the Texans will use their remaining cap space or spend one of their 10 draft picks to acquire another quarterback. Caserio said they wouldn’t suddenly become big spenders after Watson’s trade freed up $24.2 million from Houston’s budget, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of adding a quarterback, even if the franchise in reconstruction has needs that extend to almost all positions.

“If there’s an opportunity that we think makes sense,” Caserio said Monday at the NFL league meeting. “The three players that are in this room currently have different levels of experience. Davis has played, started a number of games. Kyle has played, started a number of games. Jeff has played at different times. The room is built as it is now. As you all know, things can change here quite quickly. But at the moment it’s a young group with different levels of experience and different levels of play. I think Pep is excited to work with this group here and work on the offseason schedule, to see what kind of progress they make.

A few veteran quarterbacks remain in the free agent market, but higher-caliber options like Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton all had contracts that paid them more than $8 million last season, and there are needy franchises like the Falcons and Seahawks starting over after trading franchise stars.

“In an ideal world, I think most coaches would like to have 10-year veterans, right?” said Smith. “But it doesn’t work that way. But those 10-year veterans were pretty good when they were younger, too.

Mills improved dramatically in his second starting period as a rookie. When he first replaced Taylor, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 2, Mills made far too many mistakes, posting a 7-8 touchdown to interception ratio in his first six starts. . He reduced turnovers when he returned to start the last five games. He led all NFL rookies in that span with a 102.4 quarterback rating, completed 68.4 percent of his passes, and threw for nine touchdowns with two interceptions.

“I got to see the best of what Davis could do last year,” Smith said. “Training ground, games, all that. So you start with that. I think he has character. He is intelligent. He can throw the ball. He is a better athlete than he is credited with. Second year in the system with Pep Hamilton. All of those things, I feel like give us a bit of a head start on the curve, and I’ve been around a few quarterbacks in my time. I know what they look like and we’re excited to move forward.

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