Mallett grew off the field, but not on it

Mallett grew off the field, but not on it
August 31, 2014, 3:00 pm
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It was a deal months in the making (despite the Texans "nothing to see here" stance last May).

Now that Ryan Mallett is a Texan, let's tie up some loose ends on "Tex."

Mallett and his laser-rocket arm sat on the board until the third round of the 2011 draft because of rumored off-field issues including drug use. In three seasons with the Patriots he went from a guarded, smirking kid with an awful body to a mature, outgoing NFL player who took the job seriously. He went back and got his degree. He handled himself over the past few months like a professional. He's so far different than the player who came here. But as a player, he always seemed to be fighting something when he was on the field.

Maybe the high expectations and some self-doubt. Maybe just nerves. Maybe he never got a chance to play long enough to get the butterflies out. But his accuracy and anticipation didn't get a lot better.

The development of Jimmy Garoppolo in a month's time only served to shine a light on the glacial on-field progress Mallett made.

You knew Mallett had to go. On a team as competitive as the Patriots with so many specialized roles on both sides of the ball, you can't be three-deep at a spot when only one guy plays.

That the Pats came out of Saturday without a long-snapper announced Mallett was as good as gone, as I mentioned last evening.

The fact the Pats spent a third on Mallett and got back a late-round pick back will no doubt cause clicking and page-flipping to see who the Patriots could have had instead. That's one way to look at it.

The other way - the more nuanced, reasonable way (nearly extinct in the #HotTakes era) - is to realize that even if Mallett never made a difference, a placeholder had to be there the past three years. And the Patriots put a guy with a first-round arm that they got in the third round in that spot. If people think they'd have been smarter to have drafted another position rather than quarterback in the third round of 2011 and kept, say, Mike Kafka around, that's fine.