Matt Schaub Extended By Houston Texans, Connor Barwin Will Hit Free Agency

By Chris Hengst

Speculation had the Houston Texans choosing to extend either quarterback Matt Schaub or outside linebacker Connor Barwin prior to the beginning of the 2012 season. Via Mark Berman of Fox Sports 26, the Texans made sure their signal-caller can afford a fair share of $5 foot-long sandwiches in the future. Schaub signed a 4-year extension totaling $62 million and $24.75 million in guarantees and avoids free agency this winter.

Running back Arian Foster recently re-upped for five seasons. Left tackle Duane Brown did the same for six years. Andre Johnson will retire a Texan even if Nevin Shapiro tries to sell the media on Johnson being the mastermind behind the Yahoo! Sports scandal at the University of Miami.

It’s a bit of a surprise given Houston’s stance on negotiating (they refuse to do so during the season) and the lack of information on a deal for Schaub. If I’d have guessed which player would have agreed, Barwin was it. But this makes sense considering the market for each. Schaub is coming off a Lisfranc injury that ended his season and saw the Texans win a playoff game without him. If he failed to lead Houston to an AFC South title or finish out 2012, his value might plummet. By extending him, the Texans maintain continuity of their offensive core, all of whom excel in Gary Kubiak‘s system.

In contrast, Barwin is only 25 and hits the open market presumably as one of the more attractive targets in the league. He’s a pass rusher who produced 11.5 sacks and 7 PBU’s in 2011. Those numbers repeated this year means Barwin might price himself out of Houston’s range. It’s an expensive decision general manager Rick Smith will have to make but one that mirrors the personnel issues of other successful franchises. Draft well, player peaks, choose to sign him or let him go and if it’s the latter, replace him with younger, newer selection (ie: 2012 first round pick Whitney Mercilus).

By inking Schaub to the extension, the Texans also avoid a cringe-worthy sports radio topic in the Bayou City. T.J. Yates won the first playoff game in team history but he’s not the quarterback of the future. He’s a serviceable backup who may remain in that role or dangled in a trade. He won’t steal Schaub’s job nor is it a serious problem if he departs. At some point, likely in a year or two, the front office can draft a quarterback it pegs as a successor. That’s not of pressing importance today though. As long as Kubiak is running his offense at Reliant Stadium, Matt Schaub needs to direct it.

The Texans assured that will be the case through 2016.

Chris Hengst is normally a College Football writer for Rant Sports but he lives in Houston and yeah, topical. You can follow him on Twitter @ShootyHoops.

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