Houston Texans: Top 5 passers in franchise history

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans passes over the middle as he is protected by guard Kasey Studdard #64 and tackle Duane Brown #76 at Reliant Stadium on November 23, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans passes over the middle as he is protected by guard Kasey Studdard #64 and tackle Duane Brown #76 at Reliant Stadium on November 23, 2009 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 01: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans throws a pass rushed by Avery Williamson #54 of the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans don’t have a lot of history, entering the NFL as an expansion team in 2002. Their top five passers of all-time may hold some surprises.

The Houston Texans began play as the NFL’s 32nd team in 2002, but their actual date of birth was well before that — Oct. 6, 1999, to be exact — when NFL owners approved awarding the franchise to Bob McNair and the city of Houston for a record $700 million expansion fee.

In their 17 NFL seasons, the Texans have reached the playoffs four times, most recently in 2016.

A total of 17 quarterbacks have attempted at least one pass for the Texans, with 12 other players — including five attempts by wide receiver Jabar Gaffney from 2002-05 — also tossing the pigskin at least once.

A list of the top five passers of all-time for the Texans, then, will include a couple of very well-known quarterbacks and a few guys that will be a surprise to turn up on any sort of list such as this.

Deshaun Watson, taken in the first round by the Texans in 2017, was on pace to crack the top five as a rookie before he went down with a torn right ACL in a Nov. 2 practice.

Given Watson is on target to be back for training camp this summer, he will likely break into the franchise’s all-time top five during the 2018 season, barring any setbacks.

So with apologies to Tom Savage, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the others who missed the cut, here are the top five passers — in terms of passing yards — for the Texans.

Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans
HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 09: Quarterback Brian Hoyer #7 of the Houston Texans throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

. Signed as free agent, March 11, 2015; released, April 18, 2016. . Brian Hoyer. 5. player. 10

Brian Hoyer came to the Texans in the spring of 2015 after playing out a two-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hoyer outdueled Ryan Mallett to earn the starting job heading into the 2015 season. His debut didn’t go so well as his first attempt as a Texan was intercepted and he was yanked in favor of Mallett after turning the ball over twice inside Houston’s 15-yard line and going 18-of-34 for 236 yards with a touchdown and that early pick.

Hoyer got a second chance in a blowout loss at Atlanta on Oct. 4, replacing an ineffective Mallett with Houston trailing 42-0 late in the third quarter. In the quarter-plus, Hoyer was 17-for-30 for 232 yards and two scores.

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Another relief appearance in a Thursday night loss at Indianapolis. Mallett left after taking a hard hit from Colts linebacker Sio Moore in the second quarter and when he attempted to re-enter the game, coach Bill O’Brien waved him back to the bench.

He regained the starting job after that, but missed Houston’s Week 11 win over the New York Jets after sustaining a concussion in a Monday night win at Cincinnati the previous week.

Hoyer was also on the sidelines for crucial Week 15 and 16 games as he re-entered the concussion protocol in a loss to the New England Patriots in Week 14.

He returned to pilot the Texans to a 30-6 win over Jacksonville in Week 17 that locked up a playoff berth for the 9-7 Houston squad.

The Wild Card Playoff game against the Chiefs was a disaster for Hoyer, however. He was just 15-for-34 for 136 yards and four interceptions in the Texans’ 30-0 season-ending loss. His four first-half turnovers — three picks and a fumble — put Houston in a 13-0 hole at the half and set the tone for a long evening at NRG Stadium.

The Texans cut Hoyer on April 18, 2016, ending his tenure after just one season. In 11 games, nine of them starts, Hoyer threw for 2,606 yards, completing 60.7 percent of his attempts for 19 touchdowns with just seven interceptions (in the regular season, anyway).

The 2,606 yards places Hoyer fifth on Houston’s all-time list, just ahead of the 2,483 posted by Ryan Fitzpatrick during his one-year run with the Texans in 2014.

Hoyer was an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009, signing with the Patriots and spending three seasons as a backup. That was followed by a stint in 2012 with Arizona and two seasons with the Browns before heading to Houston.

Since leaving the Texans, Hoyer spent 2016 with the Bears and in 2017 was the starter in San Francisco ending up back with the Patriots after he was cut by the 49ers on Halloween 2017.