I had a few questions on Matt Schaub yesterday but didnt really think much of it until PFT published today how the Texans can get rid of Schaub next season using the June 1 cut. So I figured we may as well chime in as well.
When you consider cutting a player such as Schaub a lot more goes into it than “correcting a mistake”, which the Texans certainly did make by extending him last season. The issues with Schaub brings up the consideration of a replacement level player and the salary associated with that player.
Based on my cap estimates for Houston I don’t think the June 1 designation is a viable option in 2014. Remember that by designating a player a June 1 cut the player’s entire cap hit remains on the books until June 1, just as if he was still a member of the team. In the case of Schaub this would be $14.5 million. That figure is difficult enough for the Texans to burden with Schaub on the roster let alone with him signing for another team. The actual cap relief, which would be $11 million dollars in 2014 would not occur until June 2, at which point free agency has come and gone. So if he goes the Texans would most likely take the full $10.5 million dollar hit in 2014 and free up $4 million to spend in free agency.
The question at that point is what type of player can the Texans bring in for $4 million dollars that gives you the performance of Schaub? The answer is nobody. Schaub is a game manager that crumbles under pressure, but he is capable. Last year, in terms if difficulty of throws, Schaub was actually very efficient because the Texans don’t ask him to do what he does not do well- throwing the ball down the field. I have not run the numbers this season, but I would imagine they will be close when all is said and done.
Schaub is not Ryan Fitzpatrick, the type of QB that is significantly over-earning based on performance. In the high priced QB market Fitzpatrick should have been earning about half his salary. Schaub is right around where his money should be. While it may sound high, and it was high IMO when he signed, the fact is QB money in the NFL is incredibly high.
$4 million in the NFL does not buy you much. It is rare for a good QB to hit the free agent market. Of the veterans the only players with a cap charge at $4 million or lower include Carson Palmer, Matt Flynn, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel, Matt Moore, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill, Jason Campbell, Shaun Hill and Fitzpatrick. Are any of those players better than Schaub? The answer is no. Really none are even close and other than Palmer all are backups.
Even if you want to bump to the $11 million category,which would be his full savings if designated a June 1 cut, the players who will fit that cap charge who would hit the market are Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, and Chad Henne. You can probably throw Mark Sanchez in that mix as well as he has a higher cap hit now, but will never earn the same money once released from the Jets. None of those are strong options.
The reality is there is almost no financial benefit to releasing Schaub next season. You would need to find a way to bring in a star veteran QB, likely by trade, where you are compromising your future by guaranteeing future money just to make the cap figures match and trading away draft choices. PFT mentioned going with Tyler Yates or Case Keenum, both much cheaper player currently on the roster, but would anyone be excited about that?
The other option is to draft a QB, assuming that the Texans would even be in a position to draft a QB. Thats a viable alternative and cheaper alternative to Schaub, but most teams do not catch lightning in a bottle as the Seahawks, Redskins, and Colts did in 2012. Most struggle as rookies. Some much longer. This would be the same as the Keenum/Yates possibility, IMO in terms of what it means going forward.
If they plan on going that route that isn’t just dropping Schaub, but most likely turning the page on the veteran aspect of the team and completely building for the future. Is that the direction that the Texans would want to go in? I would imagine only if they have a catastrophic season in which they fail to make the playoffs and finish under 0.500. They are a long way away from doing that.