Last night Denver management officially announced that Jay Cutler would be granted his trade request, after a dismal offseason filled with bickering between coach and QB. As TransientTexan wrote back on March 16, Cutler being traded is a generally negative thing for Houston when it comes to draft day, but I would like to add one stipulation. What if the Texans land Cutler instead? Ok, stop laughing, I'm serious.
"But we already have a QB."
Yes, we do, and we paid a ridiculous sum (2 second rounders) for him. And yes Schaub has shown flashes of brilliance that we never got from our agonizing years with Carr. But that doesn't mean Schaub is our savior, not even close. He has played 11 games with the Texans in each of his two seasons, with Sage Rosenfels stepping in to fill the void in the missing 5. He is injury prone, and now that our backup is shaken ex-Lion Safety Dan, that injury concern is more and more glaring.
"But Schaub's QB rating were better in the 11 games he did play last year than the 16 Cutler started."
Also true, but there are reasons why Cutler went to the pro bowl for the first time last year despite his average QB rating. One is his arm and mobility, his Denver ties have been getting him comparisons to John Elway. While it is doubtful he can live up to such lofty comparisons, his arm strength is on a top five level in the NFL, and his mobility is top notch for a pocket passer. Also Schaub's supporting cast in Houston is A grade, be proud of the fact that the Texans have Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Steve Slaton, while Denver has mediocrity. Cutler's QB rating would improve drastically if shipped to Houston, or any other team with a solid offense.
Now don't expect the media to report about it, largely because we aren't as stupid as Denver and won't alienate our QB like they did, but we will be making an offer for Cutler just like most other teams, the question is how much effort we put into it. However, unlike most other teams, Houston has several unique characteristics that make them a lucrative trading partner in the Cutler sweepstakes.
The first advantage is Schaub himself. Any trade that Denver makes they will either need to get a QB, or obtain a first round pick to use on a round 1 QB. Do you really think Denver wants to draft another unproven arm, even if it is Matthew Stafford, and start rebuilding the QB position from scratch like they did just a couple of years ago? What if the QB they draft busts, can you imagine the media frenzy and the years of work it would take to fix that damage? The smart move for the Broncos is to deal with a team that can offer them a young talented QB that with some media spinning can look like the future franchise starter for their club. Schaub is on the very short list of those types of players.
The second advantage is the coaching and play system connection that have these two teams so intertwined. Not only do we have Shanahan's protege but also his son working with Schaub. Don't you think that as Mike Shanahan watched his replacement screw up all his rebuiliding work in a single day he got on the phone and started telling Denver management what to do? His word will go a long way and he knows the only guy in the entire NFL that can plug and play back into his system is going to be Matt Schaub. The Texans also would benefit from this connection, as Cutler will be able to adapt to Houston's offense well.
So here's the real question: "Is trading for Cutler really worth the price?"
That's hard to say. Cutler is a once and future pro-bowler who with the right team could some day have his portrait up in Canton. More importantly as far as Houston is concerned, we have no reason to believe he can't start every game for us year in and year out, while Schaub may be one big injury away from ruining the Texans playoff dreams. However, QB is not technically a need position for the Texans, and to deal for Cutler it would cost at least a second rounder, probably a first, in addition to Schaub.
I think it comes down to this: The Texans will improve drastically in consistency and overall offensive performance by picking up Jay Cutler. To me that's worth nearly any price. Even Jenkins, my favorite first rounder, can't offer us such hope. My suggestion? Offer them no more than Matt Schaub, our first rounder, and Sage Rosenfels' round 4 pick, and call it Sage's last gift to Houston. There are going to be many other offers, and some teams might overpay, but that offer would be as good as any on the board.
Here's to hoping for the unrealistic chance that we will see Jay Cutler in red and blue this summer.