The Raiders went out and got themselves a quarterback. Good for them. Now they can execute the second part of plan: Get another quarterback.
When GM Reggie McKenzie orchestrated a trade for veteran Matt Schaub on Friday, it led a lot of NFL writers to observe that the Raiders had found their quarterback. The implication, or direct statement in a lot of cases, was that they were now free to look for another position with their first draft choice, the No. 5 overall.
Don’t buy it. The Raiders have found their 32-year-old quarterback for 2014, and perhaps 2015-16. Their franchise QB, the guy who will function as a building block for the next decade and perhaps keep McKenzie in town, is still out there somewhere. He may be Teddy Bridgewater, or Blake Bortles, or Johnny Manziel.
It is conceivable that Schaub will revert to form and become the quarterback who led the Houston Texans to the only playoff appearances in franchise history, in 2011-12. It is also possible that he will be the jittery mistake-waiting-to-happen that he became last year. Most likely, he’ll be somewhere in the middle – a serviceable, adequately talented QB working in a subpar offense.
In short, he’ll probably be Carson Palmer, whose brief career in Oakland will not be remembered alongside those of Ken Stabler and Rich Gannon.
The presence of such a mid-level field leader should in no way preclude the Raiders from going after a passer in this draft, which is top-heavy with highly graded quarterbacks. If Bridgewater and Bortles are gone, and McKenzie doesn’t value Manziel or Derek Carr enough to take him at No. 5? OK, move on to an edge rusher or an offensive tackle. But if Reggie sees an arm he likes, he should pounce.
Yes, that would result in tying up a lot of money in the quarterback position. Schaub will command $10 million in salary this season, $12.5 million next year and $14.5 million in 2016. But that’s fairly inexpensive by NFL standards. More important, Schaub’s prorated bonus money does not follow him from Houston in the trade. He will be easy to cut if he’s not working out.
And if he performs beyond expectation? If Schaub manages to pass for 4,000 yards (despite the approximation of an Arian Foster or an Andre Johnson in the huddle) and lead the Raiders to a winning record, threatening to keep the as-yet-unnamed young franchise quarterback on the bench for a while?
Well, what a fantastic dilemma for Reggie McKenzie to have to address.