Falcons wary of trading Schaub
Steve Wyche - Staff
Thursday, March 16, 2006
The Falcons do not want to include backup quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade for New York Jets defensive end John Abraham, although his inclusion could finalize a deal for the three-time Pro Bowl player.
Falcons coach Jim Mora reiterated Wednesday the team's stance that no deal has been appealing enough to part with Michael Vick's insurance policy.
"Who wouldn't have an interest in a player the caliber of Jonathan Abraham?" Mora said. "The fact is that he's the property of the New York Jets. This organization has a lot of respect for Matt Schaub as a player and a person, and we value him as a backup to Michael Vick."
Mora did not deny the team's interest in Abraham, which the Journal-Constitution first reported from last month's NFL Scouting Combine, or that the Falcons are engaged in trade talks with the Jets. He did not go into specifics of the conversations with New York other than to say the Falcons have not received an offer that would make them want to part with Schaub, who just finished his second season.
Schaub's agent, David Dunn, has declined comment about his client's status.
ESPN.com reported that the Jets have asked for Schaub and a second-round draft pick in return for Abraham. The Jets are believed to be among a handful of teams that have inquired about Schaub for months. All have been rebuffed. President and general manager Rich McKay also said Monday that no offer for Schaub has been good enough.
The Falcons have some negotiating leverage because several teams have filled their defensive end needs in free agency or used up salary-cap space to sign free agents at other positions. With a dwindling market, Atlanta might not have to exchange more than draft picks, which it would be willing to do, save for their first-round selection --- the 15th overall pick.
With so many draft picks from the past two seasons playing valuable roles, McKay acknowledged earlier this week the Falcons would be willing to trade picks for veteran players.
Schaub has two career starts, losing both, but his performances in the preseason and in last season's 31-28 loss to New England, in which he started for an injured Vick and completed 18 of 34 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns, have made the 6-foot-5, 237-pounder an appealing prospect. Schaub also becomes a restricted free agent after this season, which means if he signs with another team, the Falcons have the right to match the offer.
Mora and McKay have said that Schaub is not untouchable, but his value to the Falcons --- especially since Vick tends to get injured, and there are no other experienced backup quarterbacks on the roster --- is high enough that, at this time, they aren't willing to swap him for a player of Abraham's caliber.
The Falcons recently released veteran right defensive end Brady Smith after injuries limited him to just five games and left his availability for next season in question. A right end, Abraham has accumulated 53 1/2 sacks in his six NFL seasons --- 20 over the past two. He also forced six fumbles last season, when he had 10 1/2 sacks.
The Falcons confirmed they have the cap room to meet Abraham's unspecified demands for a new contract and have the ability to sign other free agents, like safety Lawyer Milloy, who was offered a three-year deal Monday.
Since being named the Jets' franchise player after the season --- a move that enabled New York to keep him off the free-agent market to either trade him or renegotiate his contract --- Abraham would have to agree to a contract with a suitor before signing off on a trade. If he is not moved, he would earn $8.3 million next season.
The Jets and Abraham have made it clear they'll most likely be parting ways.
Abraham and Milloy both visited the Seahawks on Wednesday. Abraham has not visited the Falcons, but he could over the next few days.