Making The Grade: Quarterbacks
Now that the Super Bowl is over and the NFL is into the offseason, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the Texans. We’ve already looked at the secondary, tight ends, O-line, special teams, running backs, coaches and defensive line. Today, we’ll dive into the quarterbacks.
Stud: Matt Shaub through 12 games
Schaub was having a good season, perhaps his best ever. The Texans were rolling; they opened the season with an 11-1 record. And Schaub was named to his second-career Pro Bowl.
Through the first 12 games of the season, Schaub had thrown 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Through the first 12 games of the season, according to ProFootballFocus, Schaub had a positive grade in eight weeks.
In the final six games, including the playoffs, Schaub had a positive grade just once, against the Colts at home. His best grade of the entire season came in the first week of the season, a 6.6 against the Dolphins.
According to PFF, his first four games were really good – his best stretch of the season. He had at least a 2.1 grade in each.
Dud: Schaub in last six games
In the last six games of the season, including the two playoff games, the Texans went 2-4. Schaub threw three touchdowns to five interceptions.
The most yards he threw for in those games was 343 against New England in the playoff loss in the Divisional Round, but that was because the Texans were behind and needed to play catch-up.
In the 10th game of the season, Schaub threw five touchdown passes against Jacksonville as the Texans won a shootout in overtime. In the remaining eight games, he threw just six touchdowns.
Free agents: None.
Look ahead: For Schaub, 2013 will be a make-or-break season. And he’ll definitely be the starting quarterback for next season. His salary is guaranteed and it wouldn’t make much sense for the Texans to cut him, especially because there’s no one on the roster who looks to be a better option.
The question becomes: will the Texans pay Schaub his non-guaranteed $10 million base salary in 2014?
Schaub’s play, and that of the Texans, will certainly go a long way in determining if Schaub is the quarterback of the team’s future past next season.
Basically, Schaub’s four-year deal worth up to $62 million is a two-year deal – his signing bonus was just over $17 million. The guaranteed money is the $29.15 million. But after that second year (2013) the deal becomes basically a year-by-year option. If the Texans wait until after June 1 to cut Schaub next season, the dead money would be $3.5 million in 2014 and the remaining $10.5 million (unallocated signing bonus money) would count against the cap in the following season.
So if Schaub is gone after next season, who would the quarterback be? Would it be someone on the current roster?
The team’s backup, T.J. Yates, has had limited NFL experience. He came in last season for Schaub when he went down with a season-ending foot injury. Yates, a fifth-rounder from 2011, went 2-3 as a starter last season before leading the Texans' to their first franchise playoff victory. But is he the quarterback of the future? Who knows, but it doesn't look likely.
The Texans also have two more quarterbacks on the roster, who will likely battle it out to win the third-string job next season.
First is Case Keenum, who spent the 2012 season on the Texans’ practice squad. The Texans waived Keenum during final cuts but he cleared waivers and they signed him to the practice squad. At the start of the 2012 season, John Beck was on the 53-man roster until they cut him to make room for safety Troy Nolan in early October. The Texans went the rest of the season with only two QBs on the 53-man roster.
The other quarterback on the roster, who will presumably battle with Keenum for the third spot is former Cowboy Stephen McGee. The Texans signed McGee a few weeks ago. With the Cowboys in three regular-season games, he completed 46 of 82 passes for 420 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was originally a fourth-rounder in 2009 out of Texas A&M.
Maybe the Texans will draft a quarterback. No, the QB class this year isn’t an especially good one but two teams hit with non-first-round picks recently. Colin Kaepernick was a second-round pick in 2011 and Russell Wilson was a third in 2012.