Josh McCown has begun his free-agency tour, and if he makes it out of Tampa without a contract, the Houston Texans must sign him.
It's as simple as that.
There isn't a veteran available who is a game-changing quarterback. Ryan Mallett might be fool's gold, elevated by remaining on Bill Belichick's roster, and whether there is a sure thing in the draft depends on your perspective. But even if there is a great quarterback in the draft, it doesn't change the fact that McCown and the Houston Texans are perfect for each other.
The Texans have said they will carry a veteran quarterback on their 2014 roster, and he will have to help develop a rookie or carry the Texans until they can get their quarterback of the future.
Let's address the latter first.
McCown started five games for the Bears last season, playing in eight overall. He had a 109 passer rating -- third-best in the NFL -- and his total quarterback rating of 85.1 (on a 0-100 scale) was the best in the league last season. McCown's 13 touchdowns and one interception marked the second-best touchdown-to-interception rate in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He's more than capable of being a solid starting quarterback to finish out his journeyman career.
This week, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks reported that McCown is interested in finding a team that can be his own, that would commit to him as a starter. (If true, the Texans might have given him such assurances to land the second visit on his tour.)
The other factor I mentioned above -- needing a veteran QB to help develop a rookie -- could be even more important.
Before writing this, I asked ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael Wright what kind of guy McCown is.
"If you covered Luke, it's pretty much the same deal. Great person," Wright said, referencing Josh McCown's brother Luke, also a quarterback, who Wright and I both covered while the QB was in Jacksonville.
Here's what I remember about Luke McCown: He's been a career backup who had a shot at starting to begin the 2011 season when the Jaguars felt Blaine Gabbert wasn't ready yet. McCown led the Jaguars to one win and then suffered a disastrous blow in Week 2, when he threw four interceptions and no touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 1.8. The Jaguars benched him the next week in favor of a doomed Gabbert experiment that they properly abandoned on Tuesday.
Luke McCown handled the situation gracefully, helping Gabbert as much as he could, and there was not a hint of awkwardness between them.
It's not a perfect analogy to a situation Josh McCown might find himself in here if the Texans sign him and draft a rookie. He's more accomplished than his brother and has a better skill set.
But the Texans need a player whose ego, or lack thereof, will aid rather than hinder the development of a young quarterback. From everything I hear, Josh McCown sounds like exactly that guy. The ideal situation is to have a promising rookie who doesn't have to start immediately, such as what the Titans had after drafting Jake Locker or the Packers had after drafting Aaron Rodgers. It's not a situation many teams find themselves in, but it can be very helpful for the long-term development of a young quarterback.
If the Texans go this way, the financial savings would be negligible given the cap hit that would come with releasing QB Matt Schaub, but their cap situation is OK. And McCown would come with less baggage than keeping Schaub. Josh McCown is the right guy to help the Texans transition.