Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith has publicly said several times former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson will get an opportunity to be the Texans’ starter when they go to training camp in July.
That seems like a logical comment considering Smith traded up 13 spots in the 2017 NFL Draft last month to snag the All-American quarterback with the 12th overall pick. But Houston beat reporter John McClain for The Houston Chronicle says he is hearing a different tune around the organization about their starting quarterback.
The long-time beat writer said on Pro Football Talk Live, according to CBS Sports, that there is no true competition and the job is Tom Savage’s.
“Savage is the starter, and he’ll remain the starter until injured or proven ineffective during the regular season,” McClain said. “So while G.M. Rick Smith has said Watson will compete for the job, it won’t be the typical competition that entails the splitting of first-team reps with a winner announced before Week One.”
Savage was the fourth-round pick of the Texans back in 2014, the highest pick Smith had on a quarterback until he moved up in the draft to go get Watson. Savage has been the backup the last three seasons in Houston and has started two games, going 1-1 until he was injured.
Savage has thrown just 92 passes in his short NFL career, while completing 56 for 588 yards. He has no touchdowns and one interception.
Of course, this will not be the first time Watson will have to come in and win the job from the guy everyone presumes will be the starter. During his freshman season at Clemson, the former five-star recruit opened the season at the No. 2 guy behind senior Cole Stoudt. By Week 3 he earned the job when he came off the bench at Florida State and nearly led the Tigers to an upset win over then No. 1 Florida State.
He was named the starter the next week and never looked back. Watson went on to own 55 Clemson records over the next three seasons, and was 32-3 (.914) as a starter, eventually leading the program to its first national championship in 35 years.
With Watson as the full-time starter the last two years, the Tigers went 28-2, won back-to-back ACC Championships for the first time in 28 years and played in back-to-back national championship games. Watson was also a two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist, a first in ACC history.
Watson also became the first ACC quarterback to win back-to-back Davey O’Brien Awards as the nation’s best quarterback and was the first ever two-time winner of the Manning Award, given to the best quarterback which includes post-season performances. Watson was also awarded the Johnny Unites Award as the nation’s best graduated or senior quarterback.