Houston Texans Take Big Risk by Re-Signing Matt Schaub

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistSeptember 9, 2012

How big was your deal, Matt? "This big!"
How big was your deal, Matt? "This big!"Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Sometimes, the safe play is also a risky one.

The Houston Texans announced, via press release, that they have inked quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end Tim Jamison to long-term extensions.

Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston reported via Twitter the terms of Schaub's extension:

The Texans had little choice but to try and extend their QB, unless they wanted to face the prospect of a bidding war at the end of the season.

Schaub is a fine player, and the kind of quarterback who can win a Super Bowl. He was on a rampage in 2011 before a Lisfranc foot injury cut his season short last November.

But that's exactly the risk with Schaub. He's now 31 years old and has played a full 16 games in just two of his five seasons as a starting quarterback. He's had a series of tough-luck injuries to be sure, but signing up for four more years of injury-roulette is anything but a safe bet for the organization. If Schaub gets hurt this season, the Texans could regret the extension before it ever takes effect.

Likewise, $60 million to a very-good-but-not-great player is a hefty investment. Schaub is safely in the six to 10 range on the hierarchy of quarterbacks, but it's hard to place him in the class of Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Eli Manning or even Ben Roethlisberger.

When it comes down to it, however, what choice did the Texans really have? This Texans team is positioned to be a force in the AFC South for several years. It would be a hard to sell to players and fans to start rebuilding behind a younger player just when the team finally ascended to the top of the division.

The players are clearly happy about the deal. When asked, Andre Johnson said:

Well I’m under contract for four more years so I plan on being here. I’m glad to see him receive it and I think he really deserves it. I think a lot of the time he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves. I’m just excited that all of us are back out on the field together. Me, him (Schaub), and (RB) Arian (Foster) and we have everybody healthy. I think the sky is the limit for this team.”

That's really the issue—the Texans are in win-now mode and now should extend at least through 2013. To secure 2013, the extension had to be given. The Texans are flush up against the cap, and will likely find it tough sledding in 2013 as well, so getting Schaub inked now allows them to have some certainty and stability moving forward.

The worry for the Texans is that they now have an older player at a position where the rest of the division is young and upcoming. If some combination of Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck and Jake Locker pan out, the Texans could find that Schaub has moved passed his prime, which goes to about age 31 for quarterbacks.

In other words, the rest of the division has young, relatively inexpensive players on the way up, and the Texans have an older, expensive player on the decline. That could prove to be a bad formula in years to come.

Now is not the time to worry about the future. Now is Houston's time to make a run at a ring.

The Texans are all in with Schaub. It's the right bet, but that doesn't mean it isn't a gamble.

All quotes courtesy of the Houston Texans' PR department.