The rookie, however, will get a chance to earn the job.
"We want to provide a competitive environment across the board. So (Watson will) compete," Texans general manager Rick Smith said Thursday, per ESPN.com. "(But) like I said, we feel good about Tom and his abilities to manage the offense. But yeah, (Watson) will come in, and just like every other guy on the roster, he'll have time to play."
With Savage's injury history and struggles in his few opportunities, Watson has a cleaner path to the starting gig than the two quarterbacks selected ahead of him last week.
Heading into the draft, many analysts noted Watson needed time to learn how to run a pro offense and pointed out his struggles turning the ball over. However, if the rookie quickly grasps Bill O'Brien's offense, he could be the difference-maker on a playoff-caliber team.
"Our mentality is that we try to create the most competitive environment possible, at every position," Smith said. "So there are some things that Deshaun has to come in and learn -- all these rookies. They've got to come in, and there's so much that they don't know about pro football.
"So he is in the class with the rest of those men when they report next week. There's a lot for him to learn that way."
The truth in today's NFL is that quarterbacks rarely ever get true red-shirt years, especially first-round signal-callers. Consider Smith's "competitive" comments phase one in a process that ends with Watson swiping the starting gig in Houston.