When it comes to the stunning, weekly-pick-six decline of quarterback Matt Schaub last season, two explanations exist: (1) he has lost his fastball; or (2) it was a fluke.
The Raiders are prepared to bet — possibly as much as $11 million — on the latter.
They’ve got the cap space, so they can afford to pay Schaub the full value of a contract that seemed to be destined to be scrapped. Absent evidence that Schaub took significantly less to make the expected trade happen, it means that Schaub definitely will commence the season as the starter, and it also means that the fifth overall pick in the draft won’t be used on a quarterback.
Of course, the ultimate question for Schaub isn’t whether he’s capable of playing at the same level that took him to a pair of Pro Bowls. It’s whether he’s better than Oakland’s other options. Terrelle Pryor, the final draft pick made by Al Davis, appears to be on the outs. Matt McGloin, undrafted in 2013, has a long way to go. Mike Vick, as we understand it, has zero interest in joining the Raiders.
So the choices are to hope that Schaub can do once again what he’s previously done, or to hope that a first-round draft pick can do something he’s never done: Thrive at the NFL level.
With coach Dennis Allen and G.M. Reggie McKenzie likely not having the luxury of finding out whether a first-round pick can blossom into a great quarterback, the smart move is to get the guy more likely to help the team make a move now in a division with three other teams that went to the playoffs last year.