The Oakland Raiders have publicly backed Matt Schaub as their starting quarterback since the moment they traded for him. Privately, though, there is a growing belief that Shaub's reign as Oakland starter may be shorter than anyone thought.
Albert Breer of NFL.com reported this weekend there is an "internal belief" that Derek Carr will push Schaub for his starting gig. Carr was taken by the Raiders with the No. 36 overall pick in May's draft and is currently expected to play understudy as a rookie.
We're still three months away from Week 1, so obviously any growing beliefs within the organization have to be taken with a grain of salt. Carr hasn't even worked with the full first team yet, as the NFL calendar is still in the voluntary workout phase, and he's still months away from taking professional contact. The fact that Carr looks sterling in early drills will have no bearing on his status come August, when Dennis Allen will have to assess the position for real.
Schaub, 32, came to Oakland in a March trade from the Houston Texans. A two-time Pro Bowler, Schaub suffered through the worst year of his career in 2013, as Houston devolved from playoff contender to worst team in football.
He threw for 2,310 yards and 10 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, compiling a 73.0 quarterback rating—a career low as a regular starter. Football Outsiders' advanced metrics ranked him 35th among the 45 quarterbacks who threw a minimum of 100 passes last season.
Matt Schaub in Oakland = medium version of Carson Palmer in Oakland. Both come up small in the end.— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) May 30, 2014
Oakland acquired Schaub with the hope that a change of scenery would do wonders to resuscitate his career. While a porous offensive line and injuries left him timid and unsure of himself in the pocket in 2013, he's been a very good quarterback in the years prior. Before last year, Schaub had a streak of five straight seasons with a quarterback rating of at least 90.
"The goal right now is to resurrect the player and get him playing at a level he was playing at before last season," Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson told Ashley Fox of ESPN, "because he's not at an age where most quarterbacks start to decline. We still feel like there's some good years left in Matt."
Despite the pleas to the contrary, it's only natural for Carr to ingratiate himself with the coaching staff. Reports of an internal "crush" on Carr surfaced months prior to the draft. Carr, the younger brother of former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, threw for 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns against eight interceptions as a senior. He was projected by many as a first-round pick.
That the Raiders were able to land both the former Fresno State standout and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack made them one of the biggest winners of the May extravaganza.
As for the Schaub-Carr battle, we're still too far away from the season to know whether Schaub's job is in jeopardy. Carr is nearly a full decade younger; he's bound to look more energized in OTAs than a veteran who knows the grind of an NFL lifestyle. When reports start surfacing in late July and August, then it's time to start assessing what that means.
Carr is the quarterback of the future. Everyone in Oakland's locker room knows that. And given the success of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, teams are beginning to realize the value of playing young quarterbacks early. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers would not have the depth and financial freedom they possess had Wilson and Kaepernick not been locked up on cheap deals. San Francisco will begin seeing the thinning of its margin for error now that Kaepernick has signed a fat, long-term deal.
The Raiders are naturally interested in extracting as much value as they can out of Carr's second-round slotting value.
Whether Allen is interested enough to put his job on the line to start Carr over the veteran Schaub is another question entirely.
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