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Ryan Mallett: 'I'd like to be back' with Houston Texans

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Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien made Ryan Mallett one of our NFL Scouting Combine winners by gushing over the fourth-year quarterback as a "starter in this league" and telling reporters: "I'd like to have him back."

"I'd like to be back," Mallett said Wednesday, shrugging off his pending free-agent status to say that he hopes to "get something worked out" with the team that traded for him last August.

After hearing both O'Brien and Texans general manager Rick Smith frame him as Houston's No. 1 choice to start next season, Mallett acknowledged, per the Houston Chronicle: "It's nice to be wanted."

Mallett guided the Texans to an impressive win over the Browns in Week 11 before tearing his pectoral the following Sunday in a loss to the Bengals. Tom Brady's former backup said that he is "getting close" and has "tossed (the ball) around a little," but called his recovery a "day-by-day process."

The Texans clearly prefer Mallett over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the flock of dudes -- Case Keenum, Thad Lewis and Tom Savage -- behind him.

We expect the Texans to work out a deal with Mallett early on in free agency, if not before March 10. Any challenger would be acquiring the young passer with little proof of what he can offer, but Houston possesses hours of practice tape and offers Mallett a scheme he knows well. This feels like one of free-agency's surest fits.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews free agency and tells you which big-name players could be released. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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