The Houston Texans must feel star running back Arian Foster, head coach Gary Kubiak, and general manager Rick Smith are key components to the team making not only a repeat trip to the postseason, but consecutive trips. If they didn’t they wouldn’t have extended the trio’s contracts in the past few months.
But one of the quieter NFL rumors this offseason has surrounded the contract situation between the Houston Texans and quarterback Matt Schaub. Last month, Schaub claimed he was unaware if his agent had been in touch with the organization regarding a new deal.
Schaub signed six-year $48 million contract with Houston shortly after being traded from the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. He is now entering the final year of his current deal and is slated to make $7.5 million.
Historically, the Texans handle all contract situations in the offseason. Historically, NFL teams don’t like their franchise quarterback going into the final year of a deal without an extension.
Last season the Texans won the AFC South and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history using a third-string rookie signal caller, TJ Yates. To be fair, Schaub had taken the team to a 7-3 record before suffering a Lisfranc injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that sidelined him the remainder of the season. Then-backup Matt Leinart (now with the Oakland Raiders) fractured his collarbone in his first start – a 20-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 12. Yates stepped in and finished the game and the season as Houston’s number one QB, going 3-3 and winning the division.
In the six regular season games that Yates played, he threw for 949 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 61.2%. In the two postseason games Yates’ productivity declined, despite a victory against the Cincinnati Bengals at home. At Reliant Stadium Yates threw 11-of20 passes for 159 yards and a score, but on the road against the Baltimore Ravens the 2011 fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina went 17-for-35 for 184 yards and three picks.
In the 10 games Schaub was healthy last season, he was more than competent, throwing for 2,476 yards, 15 TDs and six INTS. When healthy, Schaub usually is. Schaub was added to the 2010 Pro Bowl roster after Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger pulled out due to injuries; he went on to be the game’s MVP.
The problem the Houston Texans face is not Schaub’s production when he plays; it is that he has missed 16 games due to injury in his five seasons as the team’s starter.
The Texans signed John Beck and Case Keenum as free agents in May and the two will battle for the coveted third QB spot through the preseason. Beck is entering his sixth year in the league, while Keenum was signed as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Houston. Combined, the four quarterbacks add a nice balance of youth and experience to the squad, although many Texans fans are pulling for the rookie after his brilliant season for the hometown Cougars in 2011.
This all fuels the Schaub-contract fire. Do they roll the dice and extend his contract, knowing he has a history of health issues; or do they let the season play out and determine his value next offseason?
Do the Texans feel with more time to develop Yates will be the starter in 2013, thus essentially making Schaub’s services obsolete after the season?
Until a deal gets done speculation about Schaub’s contract will continue to circulate. That is, until the season begins. Then the focus will shift towards Schaub’s health – and that may be the biggest speculation of all.
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