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Colin Kaepernick is the Texans' best option at quarterback for the 2017 season

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Now that Tony Romo has retired, it’s time for Houston to start thinking ahead.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest domino in the NFL’s quarterback market finally fell on Tuesday.

Tony Romo decided he would no longer be playing football, and instead will be taking over for Phil Simms at CBS in the broadcast booth. It gave us some answers to his future (for now), and likely changed the approach at quarterback this offseason for the Texans and Broncos, who were long assumed to be the best suitors for the vet.

Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, has not received much attention, despite being at the top of the list of available quarterbacks. He is coming off a fine year with the 49ers, a team that lacked the talent needed to succeed for just about any quarterback in the same situation.

Yet as Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Mark Sanchez and other mediocre quarterbacks signed with new teams this offseason, all we keep hearing are ridiculous reasons as to why Kaepernick hasn’t been picked up. The first was his protest — he took a knee during the national anthem to draw attention to the oppression of minorities — though he said he wouldn’t do that during the 2017 season. Then the president fed his own ego by claiming teams didn’t want Kaepernick because “they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump.” After that, Kaepernick’s diet, of all things, came up. Apparently vegans are incapable of playing football.

We always hear about how the NFL is a business. Yet what matters most to teams is winning, not a player’s opinions. With Romo out of the picture, the Texans are running low on options at quarterback. Kaepernick now looks like an easy choice, if they are willing to give him a chance.

The Texans have the weapons to make Kaepernick effective

In the past few years, Kaepernick hasn’t had the same success that he had with the San Francisco 49ers when he led them to back-to-back NFC Championship games in 2012 and 2013. He’s 3-16 in his past 19 starts, after being 25-14 in his first three seasons. But he didn’t just magically get worse. He wasn’t equipped with the most robust weapons the past couple of seasons in San Francisco, and suffered a left shoulder injury that put him on IR in 2015.

The 49ers turned from Super Bowl contenders to a laughingstock fairly quickly. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Anquan Boldin would all eventually move on. Jim Harbaugh was pushed out, followed by the retirements of Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, and Anthony Davis. After that, the team had consecutive one-year coaches in Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly.

The Texans have the weapons to make Kaepernick an effective quarterback moving forward. In Houston, Kaepernick would have some great targets available at his disposal, like DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V.

Hopkins has proven to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL despite lining up with one lackluster quarterback after the other, and Fuller showed promise in his rookie season. They also have a good tandem in their backfield with Lamar Miller, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, and Alfred Blue, who averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The Texans were able to win the division with a 9-7 record last season, despite having Brock Osweiler under center most of the time. Kaepernick brings more to the table, and couldn’t possibly be worse than Osweiler was at times.

The Texans also had the top-ranked defense in the NFL last year, even after losing three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt for most of the season. Jadeveon Clowney finally had his breakout season, Whitney Mercilus has been one of the best pass rushers in football with 19.5 sacks the past two seasons, and Watt will be back in 2017. That’s quite the upgrade compared to the 49ers’ worst defense in the NFL last season.

There’s no sure bet about how the offense would be under Kaepernick, but we know what the defense will bring it every Sunday. That’d be less pressure for Kaepernick, who had to deal with the 49ers’ worst-ranked defense last season. Even Osweiler, who sported an abysmal 72.2 quarterback rating and threw more interceptions than touchdowns, still managed to win eight games in his 14 regular season starts.

He’s got experience other quarterbacks on the market don’t have

Kaepernick has been on the biggest stages there are in the NFL. He’s not only played in the postseason, but he’s won. With the 49ers, he helped them reach an NFC title game, and the Super Bowl. Jay Cutler is probably the only other quarterback left on the market who could seriously be considered for a starting role, and he’s 1-1 in the postseason with no Super Bowl appearance.

Four years ago, Kaepernick was five yards from leading the 49ers to their first Super Bowl since 1995. He engineered a comeback against the Baltimore Ravens during Ray Lewis’ farewell season after being down 21-6 in the first half, only to have their efforts slowed by a power outage in the Superdome. The 49ers ended up coming up short, 34-31.

The only thing the Texans have been missing to be a true contender has been competent quarterback play. Sure, they beat the Raiders in the postseason this past year, but it helped that first-time starter Connor Cook was under center for Oakland, filling in for an injured Derek Carr. The Texans put up a fight in their Divisional Round loss to the Patriots, and could have threatened the eventual Super Bowl champs more with a better quarterback than Osweiler.

Windows for success in the NFL are too short to not make adjustments

Perhaps the best argument against having Kaepernick in Houston is that Bill O’Brien isn’t used to having a dual-threat quarterback like Kaepernick. Historically, his system favors pocket passers, like Tom Brady when O’Brien was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator or Matt McGloin when O’Brien spent two years as the head coach of Penn State.

O’Brien hasn’t really had any good quarterbacks to work with since he took over in Houston in 2014. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Osweiler have had the biggest workload at the position. There’s been some Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden and Tom Savage starts sprinkled in there. Kaepernick is better than all of them.

After dumping Osweiler off to the Browns, the Texans only have Savage and Weeden on the roster. Savage has started just two NFL games, and Weeden, with a 6-19 career record as a starter and a nearly 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio, is much better suited as a backup.

This also likely isn’t the draft to find a quarterback who can start right away. This isn’t a deep class, and while there are talented quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky, they won’t be available to the Texans at No. 25.

O’Brien himself said at the owners meeting that he values experience in a starter. “I think it’s hard to ask a guy to come in straight from college and day one he’s a starter on your team,” he said. “I just think for me as a general rule, that’s tough to start them as a day one guy.”

Kaepernick might not be O’Brien’s prototypical passer, but O’Brien is a good coach, and good coaches adapt to their talent. Kaepernick would be worth the adjustment.

This isn’t to say that Kaepernick is going to lead the Texans to a Super Bowl, but he seems worth the try.