Cleveland Browns Should Be Major Players for Matt Schaub in Free Agency

Cody NormanCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2014

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 05:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans warms up before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 5, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Matt Schaub was at one time considered a franchise quarterback.

If and when Schaub is released by the Houston Texans before the March 11 deadline, he will likely garner a significant amount of attention from teams in search of a capable passer. Among those teams, the Cleveland Browns are looking to fill several holes in an offense that ranked 27th in points per game last season.

So far, the Browns seem all but enamored with the current quarterback prospects at the top of the draft, as they are rumored to have passed on interviews with multiple top passers. If all that is to be believed, and if the Browns front office is not convinced a franchise quarterback exists at the top of this draft class, general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine should be first in line to acquire the 11-year veteran.

Let’s begin with this: Schaub was terrible last season.

There is absolutely no denying the atrocity that he was as the Texans quarterback. He threw for just 2,310 yards with 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions including four consecutive games with an interception returned for a touchdown.

With all that in mind, however, Schaub is just one year removed from a 4,000-yard season—his third in four seasons. In 2012-13, the former Virginia Cavalier was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. He completed 64.3 percent of passes for 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Over his career, Schaub has tossed for 24,254 yards with 130 touchdowns and 84 picks and has been selected to two Pro Bowls. He once led the league in passing yards, as he threw for 4,770 yards in 2009.

Still, though, make no mistake about it: Schaub is a restoration project. His confidence was shattered (if not demolished) during last season's disaster and his ability to effectively lead a team at this stage in his career is questionable.

But if there is one team in the league that can restore him to prominence, it is the Cleveland Browns.

A marriage between Schaub and the Browns seems suitable for both parties. Per Jason La Confora of CBS Sports:

[The Browns] want competition for Brian Hoyer, however, and Schaub already knows this system inside out from his time with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Houston. In fact he thrived under him. Schaub is not as mobile and spry as he used to be, but with a new offensive system in place there, Schaub is an obvious choice and after making $15M a year the past few years, he will come cheaply.

Unlike other interested parties such as the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, the Browns would give Schaub the best chance at winning the starting job in Week 1.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Schaub has no interest in backing up Geno Smith with the Jets. If that is indeed the case, Schaub likely will not have any interest in playing second fiddle to other young passers throughout the league.

A move to Cleveland would reunite the veteran quarterback with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, under whom Schaub excelled in Houston, and would allow him to refocus himself mentally without the added pressure of learning a new and unfamiliar system.

With the Browns projecting to be big players in the free-agent market and the possibility of drafting Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the move would allow Schaub to play in an offense surrounded by Pro Bowl-caliber talent.

While Cleveland will likely draft a rookie quarterback in the upcoming draft, acquiring Schaub will allow the Browns to fill other holes early in the draft before finding a project quarterback in a later round.

Schaub certainly is not a long-term answer in Cleveland, but he does provide the Browns with an opportunity to draft and polish the right quarterback for their system. The addition of Schaub, as well, allows a rookie quarterback to learn from a veteran who has enjoyed incredible success within the current system.