I recently read over and published the latest from the most Raideriffic member of Team BASG, James @RaidersReporter Arcellana, on the Matt Schaub trade. He’s in favor of the deal and I can understand why, based on reasons he mentioned as well as one he may have been considering subconsciously.
The Raiders need a quarterback
Arcellana mentioned this, and after a 4-12 season where the coaching staff couldn’t decide between a rawer-than-raw prospect who remade his throwing motion before the 2013 season (Terrelle Pryor) and a quarterback who wasn’t drafted (Matt McGloin), anyone who watched the team could easily surmise that an upgrade at the game’s most important position would probably help. With Blake Bortles probably going to the Texans at No. 1 overall, Teddy Bridgewater not exactly wowing scouts these days, and the inherent risks that come with drafting Johnny Manziel, there isn’t a foolproof solution in the draft.
We’ve all heard of Matt Schaub, who used to be good
Arcellana also mentioned how Schaub was pretty decent for a five-year stretch. Then again, he also had one of the best receivers of his generation to throw to in the criminally underrated Andre Johnson (he’s one good game away from jumping ahead of Art Monk and Irving Fryar into 15th on the all-time receiving yards list, AND he gave Cortland Finnegan the on-field beatdown he always deserved). Arian Foster isn’t too shabby, either.
But Schaub has made a couple Pro Bowls, he has thrown for over 24,000 yards, and he’s thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in his career. Compared to the guys the Raiders had last year, his resume is pretty impressive.
He isn’t Mark Sanchez
Arcellana neglected to mention this, but trust me — all the Raiders fans talking themselves into this trade have this in mind. The Raiders reportedly had Schaub first on their QB wish list, followed by Sanchize. Raiders fans are sick of being embarrassed by their front office, the roster’s lack of talent and, most of all, a decade-plus of losing. Bringing in Baron von Buttfumble would’ve been the straw that made half the fan base turn their back on the NFL while convincing themselves that MMA is the only “true” sport these days.
While those three points/concerns are valid, I’m of the opinion that this move is awful for three different reasons.
I saw Matt Schaub play in person last year
And I’ve never seen worse quarterback play during a live NFL game. 19-for-35, 173 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions (including a pick-6 for Tramaine Brock) only tells part of the story. T.J. Yates was brought in, and the Texans and Schaub were clearly finished. I thought they’d fire Gary Kubiak after the game, but no.
Sometimes you can just tell when a player isn’t worthy of starting NFL games anymore, and that game was enough for me. Carson Palmer has his faults, but he’s a much better quarterback at this stage than Schaub, and expecting that to change in Oakland with lesser running backs and receivers is delusional.
Michael Vick and even Shaun Hill (no joke) are both better quarterbacks at this point. With all that cap space, the Raiders surely could’ve lured either one to Oakland. Maybe even both.
I’m far from a salary capologist, so bear with me if my figures are incorrect. (Update: They probably are.)
From what I can tell, the Raiders are on the hook for $21 million in cap space (the “Dead Money” total from 2014-16) even if they release Schaub immediately after acquiring him for a late-round pick. If they want to keep him around past 2014, they’ll have to pay him near-elite quarterback money.
(Update: I’ve had a couple people tell me the dead money stays in Houston, which makes this deal more palatable … even though I still contend that Schaub is done as a starting quarterback.)
If Schaub is terrible this year they can give him the Matt Flynn treatment. But that’s a lot of dead money for a 32-year-old quarterback who was worse than McGloin last season. Plus, the money means there’s no true competition. If the Raiders signed Hill and drafted the quarterback they liked best in May, the starting job would’ve been up for grabs. At this point, the Raiders need to give Schaub every chance to succeed from the get-go, which means he’ll get most of the first-team snaps even if he’s throwing interceptions in practice left and right.
Since when is a stopgap season a good thing?
Just because the Raiders have a clear plan — sign veterans everyone has heard of to raise fan morale and give the team a few extra wins in 2014 — doesn’t mean it’s a smart plan. The Raiders were forced to spend quite a bit to get up to the minimum required by the CBA, but signing a group of free agents with an average age of 30.3 is the opposite of what every NFL team is trying to do. There’s a reason for this.
Why they didn’t re-sign Jared Veldheer is anybody’s guess. Unless he simply didn’t want to come back even if the Raiders offered more than the Cardinals, that was a huge mistake. Luckily, Oakland isn’t on the hook for any money beyond 2014 … besides Schaub, of course. But the Raiders only have
seven six draft picks.
- Round 1, Pick 5 (5)
- Round 2, Pick 4 (36)
- Round 3, Pick 3 (67)
- Round 4, Pick 7 (103)
Round 6, Pick 5 (165)(went to Houston in the Schaub trade)
- Round 7, Pick 4 (196)
- Round 7, Pick 20 (212) (From Cardinals)
They pretty much have to trade the No. 5 overall pick, right? If the plan is to build a core that’s then mentored by the veterans they signed, they’ll need more than six incoming draftees.
But I’m getting off-track. The Raiders didn’t have the greatest leverage (mandatory spending, bad team that plays in a depressing stadium), but they could’ve put some pieces in place. Instead, they’re betting on a bunch of desperate veterans and a career renaissance for a guy who put up some good regular season numbers in a much better situation and bottomed out last season — and not due to injury.
It’s amazing that the Raiders made this decision, especially after seeing Schaub up close. Kubiak inexplicably benched Case Keenan in the Texans’ loss to Oakland, which led to this scene late in the game.
The lasting image of the frustration came on the Texans’ sidelines after the failed rally. The very non-diva wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had developed an outstanding downfield chemistry with Keenum, was caught on the sidelines expressing his “disappointment” with Schaub missing him on a would-be game-winning touchdown.
Johnson is likely celebrating today’s trade. If the Raiders are celebrating, they won’t be for long.