Trade for Oakland: I understand the Raiders need to spend a certain amount of money over the next 3 seasons to get to the salary floor for the 2013-2016 period (after being unable to spend much cash last season because of all the dead money on their cap). However, the Raiders, for some reason, have seemed much more interested in shelling out this cash to over 30 veterans rather than re-signing their own talented young building blocks and signing talented under 30 players from other teams.
I would have much rather seen them overpay under 30 building blocks a little bit, giving them the financial incentive they needed to play for a franchise with as poor a recent history as the Raiders, rather than signing guys in the tail end of their careers. Right now their best young player is probably Sio Moore. I like Sio Moore, but the Raiders need to be in a better position than this. Stefen Wisniewski, their center, is another young building block, but they’ve shown no urgency in getting a long-term deal done with him ahead of his contract year in 2014.
Jared Veldheer and LaMarr Houston, two of their few young building blocks from last year, are out, while guys like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, and Donald Penn, who won’t be around at any time the Raiders can hope to be good, are in. Vance Walker and Pat Sims, two underrated cogs in the machine and part of the reason why the Raiders were passable defensively last season, are not with the team any more.
Walker is now in Kansas City, while Sims remains on the open market. Tuck, Smith, and Woodley are solid players, but I don’t think going from Houston, Walker, and Sims to them makes them more talented on the defensive line, just older. Donald Penn is an upgrade over what they had at left tackle for most of last season with Veldheer hurt, but he’s an obvious downgrade from a healthy Veldheer.
I really liked the Tarell Brown move as I think he’ll provide a massive upgrade at cornerback for cheap, albeit only for one year. Austin Howard, though he was overpaid, will upgrade right tackle. Matt Schaub, who they traded for today, also will represent an upgrade over guys like Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, but the Raiders are now projected to have 30+ year old starters at 9 of 22 positions in 2014, a weird spot for a team whose #1 priority needs to be building for the future. Letting talented young players go and replacing them with aging veterans really seems to lack direction. Now, they seem to be going all in for a 6-10 season next year, even at the expense of playing time for youngsters.
All that being said, I’m not as down on Matt Schaub as others. He’s an obvious upgrade over Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor. Last year was miserable for Schaub, as he completed 61.2% of his passes for an average of 6.45 YPA, 10 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, getting benched regularly for the likes of Case Keenum and TJ Yates and putting up a quarterback rating of 73.0, close to 18 points lower than the season before. He’s going into his age 33 season so he’s on the decline, but I don’t know if the decline is quite as rapid as last year made it look. He’s not the 90s QB rating guy he was from 2008-2012 anymore, but that doesn’t mean that his low 70s QB rating from last year wasn’t somewhat fluky.
He would have been a smart stopgap starter at quarterback on the open market for a team that needed one. But to trade a draft pick (even a late round one) and pay him 11 million dollars when he would have been available for no draft pick compensation and probably in the neighborhood of 5-7 million yearly on the open market in a week doesn’t make any sense. The Raiders were worried he’d sign elsewhere so they panicked and trade for him. Panicking because you think you’re going to lose out on Matt Schaub is not a smart move. He’s not a top-20 quarterback anymore.
Trade for Houston: As for Houston, this is an obvious win for them. They were going to cut him to save 4 million in cap space and 11 million in cash. Instead, they are able to get something for him and still take on the cap and in cash. Their compensation in return for Schaub is minimal, but it’s better than nothing.