My rapid reactions to the news that Matt Schaub is reportedly heading to Oakland in exchange for a late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft...
1. Well done, Rick Smith. I was one of those who thought there was simply no way he'd be able to trade Matt Schaub. It struck me as a somewhat similar situation to when the Texans were trying to trade David Carr back in 2007. Everyone knew Carr was going to be released after the Texans acquired Schaub back in March of 2007. Why would another team part with an asset to acquire a player they could acquire without having to surrender an asset? Predictably, the Texans found there wasn't a trade market for Carr, and they ended up cutting him (and Domanick Davis!) without getting anything in return.
Similarly, there was very little doubt, especially after the Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick yesterday, that Matt Schaub had played his last game in a Texans uniform. He was going to be released. You knew it. I knew it. The American people knew it. So how was Rick Smith able to get anything for Schaub?
2. Two words: Cleveland Browns. The idea of Schaub reuniting with Kyle Shanahan was very real. In fact, the Raiders likely feared that, given the option as a free agent, Schaub would have chosen Cleveland over Oakland. By trading for his rights, the Raiders avoided the possibility of Schaub eschewing them for the Browns on the open market. They took the choice out of Schaub's hands, and all it cost them to do that was a late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
3. That late-round pick? It's a solid investment for the Raiders. Players selected in the late rounds of the NFL Draft are a looooooooong shot to make any impact, much less a sustained impact, on a NFL roster. Better to use that asset to acquire a potential starting QB with considerable experience than to hang onto that sixth or seventh round pick.
4. That late-round pick? It's a solid return for the Texans. While it is unlikely to translate into a substantive contributing player for the Houston Texans, better to take that lottery ticket than to get absolutely nothing for a player you were going to release and get nothing for.
5. Salary cap wise, I don't think this moves the needle much for the Texans. As I understand the rules (and someone please correct me in the Comments if I'm wrong), the Texans are still on the hook for any of Schaub's guaranteed money that has yet to be assigned to the salary cap. They do, however, escape having to pay any of Schaub's future base salaries. Thus, if I'm reading this right, the Texans' salary cap will still suffer a $10,500,000.00 hit for Schaub, all of which will presumably count against the Texans' cap in 2014. The trade relieves Houston of having to pay Schaub's current base salaries of $10.5 mil, $12.5 mil, and $14.5 mil from 2014-2016, but the Texans would have avoided those payments if they'd released him anyway.
6. What does the trade of Schaub mean for the Texans' 2014 NFL Draft strategy? Very little, if I had to hazard a guess. Schaub's departure and/or Fitzpatrick's arrival does not demonstrate that they will or will not take a QB with the first pick of the draft. While it's feasible that Ryan Fitzpatrick could be the starting QB for your 2014 Houston Texans come Week One of the regular season, I wouldn't say it's any more likely to happen than not at this point. We had no clue what the Texans would do in the draft yesterday, and we still have no clue what they'll do today. I'm still of the mind that the Texans will draft a QB 1.1, but that's no more credible than the opinion of someone who thinks the Texans will take Jadeveon Clowney first overall.
7. While it was definitely time for Matt Schaub and the Texans to part ways, I can't help but feel a little sad that Matt Schaub is no longer a Houston Texan. On balance, The Matt Schaub Era in Houston was a success, especially when judged against the team's history from 2002-2006. Schaub was a monumental upgrade over David Carr, and he was very good for several seasons in Houston. I will always fervently believe that the 2011 Houston Texans were Super Bowl bound if not for Albert Haynesworth maiming Schaub.
The disappointment of 2012 and the catastrophic failure that was 2013 (with Schaub's historic pick-six parade playing such a prominent role) clouds our appreciation of what Schaub did for the Texans. Yes, things did get ugly for Schaub in Houston. A little time, distance, and perspective--including but not limited to seeing what the next starting quarterback for your Houston Texans does--will hopefully serve to make us better appreciate what Matt Schaub accomplished in Houston instead of simply lauding the fact that he won't be the QB here anymore. His departure is being celebrated today, but I hope a time comes when we can truly take stock of all the positive things that happened while he was the signal-caller for the good guys.
8. I sincerely wish Matt Schaub and his family the best of luck in Oakland. I hope he returns to being the kind of QB he was before Haynesworth injured him, and I hope he leads the Raiders back to the playoffs. Just, you know, not at the expense of the Texans.