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Acquisition of Mallett ends Keenum's time with Texans

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 31 2014 07:48:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 31 2014 07:48:59 PM CDT

HOUSTON -- The Case Keenum-era is over.

The Houston Texans waived the former University of Houston star quarterback Sunday. After trading for New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett, Keenum became expendable.

The ex-Cougar briefly shined in 2013 after taking over for longtime Texans starter Matt Schaub. But Keenum peaked in his initial two games, went 0-8 as a starter, then struggled throughout the 2014 preseason.

Keenum, 26, was an undrafted rookie after setting NCAA records with the Cougars. He spent two-plus seasons with the Texans, completing 54.2 percent of his passes for 1,760 yards, nine touchdowns, six interceptions and a 78.2 rating.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the Texans' starter this season, with rookie Tom Savage and Mallett vying for the backup role.

The Patriots received a 2016 conditional seventh-round pick in return for Mallett. The pick could change to a sixth-round selection if Mallett receives a certain number of snap counts. That scenario is currently unlikely, though, since Fitzpatrick is the Texans' starter and under contract through 2015, while rookie Tom Savage is already being groomed to eventually replace Fitzpatrick.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Mallett has long been connected to the Texans, with trade rumors previously peaking during the 2014 draft. Mallett, 26, was the No. 74 overall pick of the 2011 draft. He threw just four passes and played in four games during three seasons in New England, backing up star quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots' acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2014 draft (second round, No. 62 overall) and the rookie's preseason success made Mallett expendable.

Mallett has connections with first-year Texans coach Bill O'Brien and quarterbacks coach George Godsey. The duo previously served as assistants with the Patriots.

As of Sunday, O'Brien hadn't named a backup to Fitzpatrick. Savage has shown promise, but the 2014 fourth-rounder is viewed as a long-term project and was inconsistent during the preseason. Keenum was expected to receive the role, yet he struggled during exhibition play and was waived.

Meanwhile, Danieal Manning is on the verge of becoming a Texan. Again.

The veteran safety spent 2011-13 with the Texans and was a key on- and off-field member of the team's defense. After recently being cut by Cincinnati, Manning is set to join the Texans, pending a physical.

Agent Russel Hicks said the Texans and Manning agreed to a deal in principle Sunday morning.

"He's excited," Hicks said. "He's jacked. He's ecstatic."

The Texans cut safety Chris Clemons on Sunday, opening room for Manning.

Manning, 32, was a second-round pick by Chicago in 2006. Entering his ninth season, the 6-foot, 205-pound Manning has 402 tackles and 11 interceptions in 112 career games.

The Texans also cut wide receiver Mike Thomas.

Both Clemons and Thomas were signed during the offseason to add depth after the team's 2-14 season.

Clemons, 28, was expected to compete for a starting spot in the Texans' secondary. Now, Kendrick Lewis and D.J. Swearinger hold the edge. Clemons spent 2009-13 with Miami, recording 207 combined tackles and four interceptions. Manning will likely serve in a backup role.

Thomas was set to become the Texans' fifth wide receiver and play in the slot. The Texans added Philadelphia wideout Damaris Johnson on Sunday, though, and Thomas hadn't played in the NFL since 2012. The fourth-round pick of the 2009 draft totaled 176 catches for 1,796 yards from 2009-12 with Jacksonville and Detroit.

The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Johnson played in 27 games the last two seasons after going undrafted out of Tulsa. He totaled 21 receptions for 270 yards during 2012-13 with Philadelphia, while returning 38 punts for 391 yards and one touchdown and 17 kickoffs for 441 yards.

NOTES: The Texans' 53-man roster underwent additional changes Sunday. One day after cutting 22 players, the Texans claimed OT Jeff Adams from the Tennessee Titans. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Adams was an undrafted rookie out of Columbia. He spent time with Miami and Tennessee the last two seasons. ... The Texans also added former San Francisco CB Darryl Morris. The 5-10, 188-pound Morris played in 13 games for the 49ers last season and attended Texas State. Due to finishing last in the NFL last year, the Texans have first choice of waiver claims this season. ... OT Will Yeatman was placed on injured reserve, while the Texans waived CB Josh Victorian.