Raiders Trade for Matt Schaub
The Oakland Raiders have acquired Matt Schaub from the Texans for a sixth round pick. For the Texans, it opens the door to a franchise QB selection with their number one overall pick in April. For the Raiders, well, we don’t know what this means. But let’s take a look at the numbers and see what the possibilities may be.
We do know the Raiders need to add salary. They are one of the unique teams that have struggled to hit the salary floor in recent years; with free agents not thrilled about signing in Oakland, their best method of adding salary is by trading for other team’s castaways.
They have employed this strategy for the third consecutive year at the quarterback position. In 2011, they acquired the pricey Carson Palmer for a 2012 first rounder and a 2013 conditional second. Palmer was shipped to Arizona for some later round picks 18 months later, and so they acquired Matt Flynn for a fifth round pick in 2014 and a conditional 2016 pick. Flynn started one game before getting released, returning to Green Bay and holding the fort while Aaron Rodgers recovered from a midseason injury.
Why am I wasting time discussing previous quarterbacks who no longer play for the Raiders? Because by acquiring Schaub for a sixth rounder, the Raiders are at least not overpaying for a player who other teams don’t want. And Schaub is actually much better than the other two.
Let’s not forget, Schaub was a mid- to low-end QB1 for much of his career before last season. In terms of PFF QB Rating – which takes into account dropped passes, throw aways, spikes, and yards in the air – he finished between 6th and 11th overall between 2008 and 2012. His accuracy percentage – which is a more accurate measure than completion percentage because it accounts for those aforementioned things like dropped passes, throw aways, etc. – also ranged from first overall to 10th over that five year span. Finally, his fantasy points per drop back ranged from 6th to 21st. The table below shows the breakdown:
|PFF QB Rating||8th||6th||11th||9th||11th||33rd|
|Fantasy PP DB||6th||12th||19th||6th||21st||41st|
Schaub’s 2013 rankings scream outlier, so what was the cause?
Is he getting old? Schaub is 32, a year younger than Tony Romo and the same age (and drafted in the same year) as Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger (Ben is actually a year younger). Nobody would characterize those QBs as in their prime but they are still unquestioned starters and Schaub’s 2008-2012 span matches up well against each of them.
Was it injury? Torn ankle ligaments in Week 6 put him out a month, but he struggled from Week 2 onward, including the abomination in Week 5 where he threw three picks for a -8.9 rating. He was worse post-injury compared to pre-, but -7.3 in Weeks 1-6 and -8.6 in Weeks 11-17 are equally bad figures.
Was it the guys around him? Andre Johnson did have an uncharacteristically high 10 drops last season (20th worst) but that may have been offset by DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with the second lowest drop rate in the NFL. Arian Foster only played the first half the season but generally played well in those seven weeks, so it can’t be on him.
Which brings us to the offensive line. In terms of pass blocking efficiency, the Texans O-line ranked 26th in the league compared to 8th in 2012, 7th in 2011 and 3rd in 2010. This resulted in Schaub facing pressure in a fourth-worst 41.8% of passes.
Naturally, his accuracy percentage under pressure went from 15th overall in 2011 to 11th in 2012 to 36th in 2013. His interception percentage also rose to 3.9% instead of the 2.1%-2.6% range in previous years. And look at this breakdown of QB rating when having less than 2.5 seconds to throw vs 2.6 seconds or more:
|2.5 seconds or less||101.5||91.7||68|
|2.6 seconds or more||93.3||89.2||78.8|
It appears that Schaub is getting a case of the heeby jeebies. While his QB rating dropped off last year in both scenarios, it dropped off a cliff when faced with 2.5 seconds or less. This might be due to the type of hits he was receiving: having a 26th ranked O-line probably means rushers are getting clean hits on your QB. His ankle may have played at least a small role as well, particularly if it was a nagging issue from early on in the season and finally gave way in Week 6.
So now that we know how Schaub performed last season, how will he perform this season? Oakland was 14th in Pass Blocking Efficiency in each of the last two seasons, so that’s helpful. Oakland lost Jared Veldheer to the Cardinals and Tony Pashos remains a UFA – they ranked 37th and 30th, respectively, in PBE last year. Veldheer will be replaced by Austin Howard, who signed a five-year deal from the Jets and ranked 31st last season (they also signed Donald Penn from Tampa Bay, who ranked 48th).
He won’t have the offensive weapons at his disposal as he did in Houston, but adding James Jones to Denarius Moore and Rod Streater is at least a decent corps. Darren McFadden is back to frustrate fantasy owners. He’s also one of the worst pass blocking backs in the league, however, so don’t expect Schaub to be too enamored with him.
So all in all, we see a slight upgrade in protection in exchange for a moderate downgrade in receivers. Schaub deserves the benefit of the doubt in 2014 and should have a reasonable shot at producing in that 14-22 range of QBs.
But what about his competition at the quarterback spot? This is the biggest unknown for fantasy owners.
Terrelle Pryor ranked 41 out of 41 passers in QB Rating (among those that featured in at least 25% of the team’s dropbacks). He started the season decently but quickly fell off and was never more than just a bad quarterback with a decent set of wheels. Even in Schaub’s worst year of his career last season, he outplayed him in virtually every non-running metric. The Raiders will likely give Pryor the opportunity to wow them in training camp, but this signing suggests they either think Pryor is not the answer or will need a few years of seasoning. Playing behind someone who has been one of the more accurate passers in five of the last six years can’t hurt his development.
It’s worth noting that Matt McGloin will be in the conversation after seven ho-hum starts in 2013, but at best, he’s vying for the first quarterback off the bench spot.
Of course, the other big question is what they will do on draft day. This trade allows Oakland to address a different area of need in the first round and potentially wait until the second round or even next year for their quarterback of the future. They could also trade down to accumulate more draft picks. I like the flexibility they have given themselves, I just hope there is an overall plan here. That’s not a sure thing with the Raiders, but we’re only a few weeks from getting some clarity. Stay tuned.