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New England Patriots trade QB Ryan Mallett to Houston Texans

A long-rumored trade finally has happened.

The New England Patriots have dealt quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans, which was first reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Rapoport reports the Patriots will receive a conditional seventh-rounder in 2016 in return.

There had been talk up to and during the draft in May that Mallett, who becomes a free agent after this season, could wind up with the Texans and new head coach Bill OBrien, especially after the Texans only signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to start and drafted fifth-rounder Tom Savage as their developmental project.

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O'Brien was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the Patriots when the team drafted Mallett in the third round in 2011.

Although Mallett has a mere four regular-season passing attempts as Tom Brady's backup the past three seasons, he reportedly has come a long way since entering the league.

Mallett rebounded from a so-so first performance in the preseason to post strong numbers in the second and third contests with the Patriots. The Patriots drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo in Round 2 — and his strong preseason play — alowed the team to send Mallett to the Texans.

Now the question becomes if the Patriots sign a third quarterback to the active roster. They worked out Cornell's Jeff Matthews on Saturday after he was cut by the Atlanta Falcons.

For the Texans, it's likely that Fitzpatrick will remain the starter for now and that Savage is third in the pecking order, with Mallett likely to come in and challenge Fitzpatrick if he falters over time. It appears Case Keenum will be cut.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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