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Our Imperfect World

Rumors have swirled in the past two weeks that several teams are in the hunt for Matt Schaub, and have already offered the Falcons compensation in the form of first or second round picks for him. Two of the rumored teams are the Cowboys and Bengals. I’ve also heard the Jets and Dolphins mentioned, but I’m not sure how grounded those particularly rumors are.

But nonetheless, the Falcons should jump at such a proposal. As most know, Schaub was a third round pick in 2004, and frankly if the Falcons can get a third rounder back or better, then they didn’t lose anything in drafting him. I’m of the mindset that the Falcons should accept even as little as a 4th or 5th rounder for him.

Why? Because, I believe when you have Rich McKay as your GM, a 4th or 5th rounder can be as valuable as a 3rd rounder to some other teams. Demorrio Williams, Chauncey Davis, Michael Boley, and Chad Lavalais have all been selected in those rounds since McKay’s arrival here and combined for 46 starts this past year.

Also, I base this on the fact that Schaub is unlikely to be a Falcon beyond this year. He is an RFA at the end of the season (if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is extended prior to then), and will likely be on the trade block. I believe if the Falcons don’t trade him this off-season, they will do so next year, because it will be their last chance to get some sort of compensation for him. Even if not, and he remains for the ’07 season, you can be about 99.9% positive that once he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, he’s going to jet Atlanta. So he has a shelf life of 1 or 2 years here in Atlanta, max.

As I said, a 4th or 5th round pick under McKay seems to be a pretty solid bet, and that player like the 4 I mentioned above probably have a shelf life of 4 or more years in Atlanta. Possibly you can get 2 or more good years out of them as starters. Schaub has a maximum of 2 years as a backup, so which is more valuable?

Yes, I totally realize that Schaub would be a steal for another team at such low compensation. But frankly, a middle round draft pick has a higher future upside than Matt Schaub does, even when considering his skill and abilities.

Some people have been skeptical to ship Schaub off because he’s one of the top backups in the NFL. The Falcons would be hard-pressed to find a backup as competent as him to play behind an injury-prone Vick. That is definitely true, but Schaub set the bar pretty high, and it would be a lofty goal if the Falcons constantly had a backup of his caliber on their team. I’m not saying the Falcons should aim low, but you’ve been a bit spoiled by having Schaub, and sometimes you just have to accept a little disappointment. Most NFL teams have a guy playing second fiddle that probably would lead a team to only 4 or 5 wins over a 16 game schedule. Not everybody can have someone capable of leading a team to the playoffs. Sometimes you just have to live with having an average player, because there just aren’t enough good players to go around.

Another reason I’m so quick to ship off Schaub for relatively minimal compensation is that I’m not deluded enough to believe that if the Falcons simply wait a year, Schaub’s stock will rise even higher. That same sort of judgment was involved when Doug Johnson was Vick’s primary backup. Most Falcon fans were confident in Johnson’s abilities up to that point (he had done little to make us believe he was a bad player) and even when Vick went down in ’03, many felt the Falcons could be able to split the 6-8 games that Vick was initially expected to be out. Boy, we were wrong.

This is the NFL to all those that don’t know. And trying to guess the future is like trying to guess the future, which means it’s next to impossible. One can only look at how players rise and fall over the course of a single year in terms of draft stock to know that. One can look at how a team’s initially expected strength of schedule vastly changes from how it looks in the preseason to the end of the regular season. The turnover that seems to occur yearly in the playoffs is another reason why trying to guess the future is next to impossible. Assuming Schaub’s value is only going to increase from one year to the next is the same as assuming the Falcons would win 9 games this year and make the playoffs, as predicted by most at the end of 2004. You just never know.

When you look at that term we call “likelihood,” Schaub is likely only to start one game next year because that’s what he’s only managed to start the past 2 years. So how much more can Schaub’s stock improve if he gets only 1 opportunity to really shine?

I don’t expect most to be on the same page as me in accepting a 4th round pick for Schaub. I’m just of the mindset that if I’m Rich McKay, my thinking is that a 4th round pick can do a lot to help me build this team down the road, while Matt Schaub offers very little.

In a perfect world, we would be able to keep Matt Schaub forever and it wouldn’t cost us tons of money, and he and Michael Vick could play happily side by side and skip through a field of daisies holding hands, and the Falcons would win the Super Bowl, and Chad Johnson would get traded to the Falcons, blah blah blah. But it’s not a perfect world. Our imperfect world tells me that we should strike while the iron is hot.

Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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