Earlier this week, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he had a “really good idea” who his starting quarterback would be for 2014.
Now we’ve learned that quarterback apparently is Matt Schaub, whom the Raiders reportedly have acquired from the Houston Texans for a late-round draft choice in May, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
The question is, why have the Raiders gone after Schaub? Is making Schaub – who had a horrible season for the Texans in 2013 – a really good idea for a franchise that is desperate to take some big steps forward in 2014?
At first glance, it certainly doesn’t seem so.
Schaub, 32, was a seven-year starter for the Texans and had some fine seasons in Houston. Just two seasons ago, he started all 16 games, threw for 4,008 yards and 22 touchdowns vs. only 12 interceptions and completed 64 percent of his throws.
But this past season was a nightmare for him. He played just 10 games, lost his starting job to Case Keenum, threw more interceptions than TD passes (14 vs. 10) and posted the worst quarterback rating of his starting career – by far – at 73.0, nearly 17 points below his career average.
He made headlines not for his prowess, but for his futility. At one point, he set an NFL record by having an interception returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games.
After the fourth game in that streak, when the Texans blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Seahawks, one Texans fan bought a Schaub jersey at the stadium and then burned it in the parking lot.
Schaub also won’t come cheap. According to Schefter, Schaub will count $14.5 million against the Raiders' salary cap in 2014.
Raiders fans haven’t yet had a chance to hear from McKenzie about his thinking in acquiring Schaub. Is he hoping Schaub can shake off his 2013 and be the QB he was in 2012? Does he believe last season was an aberration? Does he just want a veteran place-holder for this season to give a rookie (as yet undrafted) time to develop? Will he take a quarterback with the No. 5 overall draft selection and have the two battle in training camp?
It’s hard to see that Schaub is a better fit for the Raiders than two other available QBs, Josh Freeman or Michael Vick – each of whom would be much less expensive. But Marc Sessler of NFL.com’s Around the League report recently said he believed Schaub was being targeted by Oakland. And, he was right on the money.
This is a big gamble by McKenzie, who for the past week has been making a series of good-looking moves. But if Schaub stumbles, the Raiders could be in trouble. And another bad move at quarterback – remember Matt Flynn a year ago? – could cost McKenzie his job.