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Should Patriots bring back Ryan Mallett?

When the Texans cut quarterback Ryan Mallett, he instantly became a free agent, able to sign with any team. So who will sign him?

In a league where there simply aren’t enough quarterbacks to go around, Mallett may find his way back onto an NFL roster, sooner or later. Or sooner than later.

How about the team he started his NFL career with? In 2011, the Patriots made him a third-round pick. By all accounts, Mallett wasn’t a problem. He possibly wasn’t a problem because he knew his place in New England. There, Mallett never was going to be the starter, as long as Tom Brady was: (1) on the team; and (2) still alive.

In Houston, Mallett’s confidence became delusion and, in turn, anger. He believed (and probably still believes) that he’s better than Brian Hoyer. He believed (and probably still believes) that the Texans weren’t treating him fairly. He believed (and probably still believes) that the Texans would have a better record if he’d been playing.

Mallett didn’t have two separate tardiness incidents because he’s chronically unable to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there. The no-show in August and the failure to show up on time for the flight in October were manifestations of his frustrations.

It’s actually a win for Mallett, if he wasn’t going to play in Houston. He’s able to collect the balance of his $2.5 million base salary as termination pay, and he’s also permitted to sign with a new team and keep whatever he makes.

And so now the question is whether someone else will give Mallett a spot on the depth chart. The deeper question is whether Mallett knows his place in a new city.

In New England, his place would be No. 2 or No. 3 on the depth chart, behind Brady. Mallett knows the system well, and he’d be much more effective than Matt Flynn or Ryan Lindley would have been.

First, the Patriots would have to be willing to devote a third roster spot to the most important position on the team.