TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans sets to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 13, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Risky move, but the only move
Giving a multi-year extension to a 31-year-old player is a risky proposition, but I believe it's a risk the Texans must take. No doubt it's a gamble, but the Texans have come too far and are too close to their ultimate goals to take a step back now. The Texans were 7-3 and considered a favorite to reach the Super Bowl until Schaub broke his foot against Tampa Bay last season. T.J. Yates performed much better than expected but there's no doubt in my mind that it will take a healthy Schaub to reach the next level. So far with Houston, Schaub has averaged 264 yards per game, completed 64% of his passes, thrown 98 TD's to 58 interceptions, and has a 92.2 QB rating; Yates can't do that.
Five years of the six-year deal Schaub signed in 2007 are in the books and Schaub will make roughly 7-million dollars this season unless the Texans sign him to an extension. According to reports serious discussions haven't started yet, but I don't believe the Texans have a choice in this situation; they need to get a deal done, and get it done quickly. Some fans believe they should hand the job to Yates after this season is over, but I'm not sold on Yates long-term. He was better than most 5th-round rookies last year, but he still has a long way to go, needs a lot of time to develop, and his 3 interceptions were the biggest reason why the Texans lost to the Ravens in the divisional round (even bigger than Jacoby's fumble). Schaub knows the system, can put up big numbers, and I don't feel comfortable handing over the keys to a quarterback you're still having to babysit. The Texans can call a simplified, run-heavy offense for a little while and get away with it, but the good, veteran defensive teams will expose them.
Ideally the Texans would have drafted a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round several years ago to groom to be ready when Schaub's contract ran out, but they weren't afforded that luxury with the glaring needs at other positions; especially on defense. The Texans should go ahead and sign Schaub to a 3-year extension for similar money and then draft a guy to groom and compete with Yates to be Schaub's eventual replacement. I'm not saying they have to re-sign Schaub because he's a great quarterback, but he's a top 10-12 quarterback (good but not great) and he's the most qualified player to run this system and lead this team that's available.
The other argument I hear is that they should wait until the season is over given his recent injury history. That reason has more validity to it in my opinion, but I think re-signing Schaub now could actually work in the Texans favor. His injury history is fresh in the minds of everyone involved right now and could give the Texans leverage in negotiations. Even if it shifts the advantage just a little bit in their favor, that could be enough to get him signed to a contract with reasonable money, years, and an out clause. If you delay the contract talks and Schaub plays to his average healthy year (4,500 yards, 26 TD average in 2009-2010 full seasons), then the price tag on signing him will skyrocket. Of course there is a chance that he could go the other way, but you could front-load or make it incentive based (especially if you did the deal now), and give yourself a relatively painless exit .
Bottom line, Schaub will never be elite, but he's good enough to lead this team to a Super Bowl and he's by far the best option they currently have available.