The Patriots seemed destined to jettison backup quarterback Ryan Mallett long before finishing the job Sunday in a deal that sent the fourth-year player to the Houston Texans for a conditional seventh-round pick.
And while it all was inspired by the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo — the largest takeaway from Sunday's move — the trade also represents Mallett's low appeal in a quarterback starved league and how Bill Belichick will go to whatever length possible to derive value from a player who no longer had a future with his team.
According to the Boston Herald, Mallett was dangled as bait to the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills before eventually being dealt to the Texans. The Texans, who might have been anticipating the Patriots' release of Mallett in the cut down to 53 players Saturday, were forced to fork over a seventh round pick to acquire him.
Here are some other thoughts on the trade:
- Garoppolo obviously beat out Mallett in training camp to be the Patriots' top backup quarterback. Mallett finished 14 of 26 passing (53.8 percent) for 161 yards and one touchdown. He had an 85.6 quarterback rating. Meanwhile, Garoppolo was 46 of 79 passing (58.2 percent) for 618 yards, with five touchdowns and an interception. He had a 99.0 quarterback rating. And it was obvious despite being a rookie that Garoppolo had a comfort level that Mallett just didn't show on the field. He only improved over time, something Mallett did not do.
- For the Texans, trading a 2016 conditional seventh round pick doesn't amount to much. The Patriots are receiving compensation for a player with whom they team didn't see a future. That's remarkable from New England's standpoint. But in the immediate aftermath, the trade will be beneficial for the Texans, who were going into the regular season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback, a disappointing starter in stints in Buffalo and Tennessee.
- With this being Mallett's final year in his contract and only costing New England $937,945 against the cap, the Patriots save the amount of his base salary in the trade: $776,976.
- Belichick and former Patriots assistant coach and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, now the head coach of the Texans, were teamed up together in 2011 when the Patriots drafted Mallett. O'Brien certainly has experience with Mallett and likely provided input on drafting the former Arkansas and Michigan quarterback. Mallett was active for only one game that season as Brian Hoyer, the current starting quarterback in Cleveland, was Tom Brady's top backup.
- The Texans reportedly cut Case Keenum after the trade, apparently advancing to the regular season with Fitzpatrick, Mallett and rookie Tom Savage, a fourth round draft pick out of Pittsburgh, as their trio of quarterbacks. There's no guarantee that Mallett is the future quarterback of the Texans with Savage on board. The rookie represents a higher investment than Mallett, given the trade of a conditional seventh rounder and Savage's selection in the fourth round.