The Truth on the Matt Schaub Situation
1. For business reasons, there is no rush to cut Matt Schaub.
While it's the job of fans to torment underperforming players in their driveways, put "FOR SALE" signs in their front yards, and offer to drive them to the airport, it's the job of team management to be more pragmatic about every facet of constructing a roster, and the truth for the Texans is that a) they're around $13 million under the salary cap right now, and b) they're not making a run at anyone right now where they need anywhere close to $13 million in cap space. So there's no pressing need to cut Matt Schaub and realize the cap "savings" of letting him go (savings which I put in air quotes for a reason, more in a minute).
Here's the other thing -- believe it or not, as the veteran quarterback market unfolds, there could possibly be a trade market (albeit the flea-iest of flea markets) for Schaub. Some team might be willing to duke the Texans a sixth or seventh round pick to have Schaub as their starter for a year or two. It sounds crazy, but look at the available veteran quarterbacks. Schaub might be the best one. (This is where you stop wondering why teams "reach" for quarterbacks in the draft. You reach because otherwise you get stuck trading for and paying veteran dollars for Matt Schaub.)
(NOTE: I would imagine any trade for Schaub would have to come with some sort of understanding that he would renegotiate his base salary downward, but who knows? Teams have to spend up to 90 percent of their cap space, so one of these cap space rich teams could probably absorb Schaub's $10 million salary with minimal issue.)
2. The $3.625 million cap "savings" the Texans would get from letting Matt Schaub go is a half baked truth.
Here is the math of cutting or trading Matt Schaub if you're the Texans:
2014 Base Salary: $10,000,000
2014 Miscellaneous Bonus: $625,000
2014 Salary Cap Figure: $14,125,000
2014 Dead Money if traded/released: $10,500,000
Schaub Traded/cut pre-June 1
* 2014 Cap "Savings": $3,625,000
Schaub traded/cut post-June 1
** 2014 Cap "Savings": $10,625,000
** 2015 Cap Hit: ($7,000,000)
Let's start with one philosophical belief I have -- if the Texans indeed unload Schaub, then they need to eat the entire Schaub cap hit, all $10.5 million of it, in 2014. They're not winning a Super Bowl next season. Take all of your medicine in one fell swoop and live to fight in 2015 with ample cap space and/or a newly extended J.J. Watt. There is no reason to shove seven million empty cap dollars into 2015's cap. None whatsoever.
So with that said, yes, technically the Texans would spend $3.625 million less in cap dollars in 2014 if they trade Schaub or let him go before June 1. But you need to replace him, and frankly "equal replacements" (and by "equal" I mean veteran quarterbacks who have had a few decent seasons along the way) right now are going for more than $3.625 million. Hell, Matt Cassel just got two years, $10 million, and he's been way worse than Schaub the last few years!
So, from purely a fundamental standpoint, if you're going to get hit with Schaub money one way or the other, don't you wait to make sure that you're not totally screwing yourself by releasing him? (The answer is "Yes," as much as we all want to get out our torches and pitchforks and run over to Schaub's house and run him out of town.)
3. There will always be a market for quarterbacks with a pulse.
One point of view espoused by some (mostly former players) is that the Texans should let Schaub go out of "respect" so that he can find a new home while the quarterback market is peaking in terms of demand. Two things on that -- first, the sign of "respect" that Schaub got was in the form of $29 million guaranteed coming off of a broken foot heading into 2012. Sorry, Schaub's used up all his "respect" coupons.
Second, have we learned nothing about the quarterback market? There will always be a market for reasonably competent (ok, not even reasonably competent) quarterbacks at all times of the calendar year. The Raiders traded two high draft picks for Carson Palmer in the middle of the season in 2011, and he hadn't even been in a training camp yet! Teams inquired about Brett Favre two years after he had retired to see if he could come back midseason and play. Hell, Vinny Testaverde probably still gets phone calls! I mean, do we not remember having Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia on the same team right here in Houston in 2011?!?
If a team is desperate enough, it will pay for a quarterback, at any time. Even historically bad ones. Like Matt Schaub coming off of 2013.
I still think Schaub will be a former Texan at some point this offseason. I think there is an immeasurable anger that would encompass the fan base if Schaub were back in any shape, form, or fashion, as a starter or a backup.
But let's allow O'Brien and company to do their jobs, which for better or worse, includes being practical with how they handle these final days of the Schaub Era.