Matt Schaub watches TJ YatesA franchise quarterback has become the most important piece of the puzzle for NFL teams. When an organization does not do everything to keep their quarterback long term, it is only natural to wonder about any underlying issues. After Bump and Run Coverage examined the Joe Flacco contract situation last week, we move on to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
Dave, what is the hold up on getting a new contract in place for Schaub. He will be 31-year-old entering this season, and Schaub has consistently put up good, though not unmatched, numbers over the course of his five years with Houston. He finished the 2011 season on IR with a Lisanfranc injury. Is the team, which runs a good deal of bootlegs in its Shanahan-derived offense, worried about his long-term health?
Is this a T.J.-Yates-fueled issue? Houston was 7-2 when Schaub went down, but in the end Yates was the quarterback to take the team where Schaub never has: the playoffs. With a playoff victory, nonetheless.
The team might not view Yates as the long-term successor, but does his success devalue Schaub’s accomplishments over the course of his Texan’s career? GM Rick Smith does have history of focusing solely on projected production and value.

Dave’s Response

Shawn brings up a great solution to why the Texans might not jump at the chance to sign Quarterback Matt Schaub to a long-term deal. Perhaps QB T.J. Yates is the real deal; he looked completely overmatched against the Baltimore defense in the AFC Division round, but very few quarterbacks do not. Despite his play, the Texans nearly defeated the Ravens on the road.

That, however, could be spun around to make this situation seem even more puzzling. Houston had a top-five defense, maybe the best running back in the AFC, Arian Foster, and one of the best wide receivers in the league, Andre Johnson. Shouldn’t keeping a quarterback that has been consistently good for the last five years be a priority?

Some people would argue that everything worked out so perfectly for Houston last year as the Colts had a huge decline and no one else in the division improved enough to earn a playoff berth. Texan naysayers argue they won the division by default.

But think about what the team went through last year to still finish 10-6 and win a playoff game. Running back Arian Foster missed three weeks due to injury and backup running back Ben Tate filled in and nearly rushed for 1,000 yards. Wide out Andre Johnson missed over half the season with a lingering hamstring injury and had the worst statistical season of his career. Plus, the defensive player everyone thinks the Texans will miss so much in 2012, Mario Williams, also played sparingly in five games and Houston still had a top-ranked defense.

There was arguably only one injury the Texans could not overcome last year and that was Matt Schaub. After backup QB Matt Leinart injured himself as well, rookie QB T.J. Yates filled in nicely but could not lead his team on the road against Baltimore.

Schuab may not be the best player on the Texans, but it is not a stretch at all to say he is the most irreplaceable player. And Houston seems to be taking that for granted as they fiddle around with their contract negotiations.
Shawn’s conclusion:

Dave, your point about Andre Johnson hits the bulls-eye. Johnson is one of the greatest receivers of his generation, and the Texans know it. While they have him in his prime, they want to ensure that they have a talent at quarterback that can maximize his dominance. The urgency only grows when your other superstar, Arian Foster, plays a position with a very limited shelf life.
Houston allowed Mario Williams to sign with Buffalo this offseason, cut longtime tackle Eric Winston and yet re-signed a high-value in center Chris Meyers. Before handing Schaub a contract on par with his career statistics, Smith will ensure that Schaub earns his new deal. Houston is a club with their backs up against the salary cap wall, and if they feel that Foster and Johnson are carrying Schaub in the offense, they have a cheaper solution on the roster in Yates.
If Schaub does not ink a new contract before he becomes a free agent in 2013, perhaps Houston was waiting for the bumper crop of quarterbacks that will be available in the draft. Several quarterbacks fit  head coach Gary Kubiak’s preference towards a mobile, strong-armed signal caller. Kubiak’s new contract indicates he will have time to develop a new quarterback.

Previous Bump and Run Articles

- Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens
- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints
- Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals