Inside Slant: It's go time for the Raiders

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
11:00
AM ET
The Oakland Raiders' pending acquisition of quarterback Matt Schaub makes perfect sense, at least in the context of their clear approach to the offseason: 2014 or bust.

As the chart indicates, Schaub is one of 10 players the Raiders have acquired this month -- via free agency, trade or re-signing -- who will be at least 29 years old during the regular season. After consecutive 4-12 finishes, general manager Reggie McKenzie is hoping for a quick spike in competitiveness to cover for what I can only assume is a longer-term plan to back-fill with younger players.

Schaub
Schaub
Conventional wisdom discourages NFL teams from collecting veterans to win now, but McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen don't have enough job security to rebuild in a more deliberate manner. The best news is McKenzie has not hamstrung the franchise's future -- or, if you're a cynic, the job of his successor -- with any of these deals. The Raiders can part ways with all 10 of these players after the 2014 season, Schaub included, without paying them another cent and with minimal impact on their future salary-cap structure.

So as long as the Raiders are going all-in on 2014, there is no reason to continue experimenting with Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, their primary quarterbacks in 2013. This approach cries out for a veteran quarterback, one who presumably can bring a higher minimum standard than an unproven starter. (How is that for an endorsement?!) Schaub's age is actually a plus in this situation -- veterans on the roster are assured of the team's short-term commitment to winning -- and let's not forget that he was a productive NFL starter before an unexpected spiral in 2013.

During his previous six years with the Texans, Schaub was one of the league's most accurate and efficient passers. His completion percentage of 65.1 ranked No. 7 among qualified starters, and he threw almost twice as many touchdowns (114) as interceptions (64) over that period. That ratio (1.78) ranked No. 12 in the NFL.

Perhaps a fresh start will help Schaub move past last season's unquestionable disaster. Regardless, there is no reason to waste time discussing whether he could experience a career renaissance in Oakland or if he could be their starter for the next few years. All that matters is that he is a better option, given their current philosophy, than the players on their roster.

You might blanch at the $11 million salary Schaub's contract calls for, but don't forget the Raiders' unique position relative to the collective bargaining agreement: At the start of the week, they needed to commit another $30 million in cash to their 2014 payroll to remain on track for compliance with the league's four-year salary floor. I don't think the Raiders were looking for the most expensive quarterback option they could find, but in this case, his salary provides absolutely no obstacle.

In the end, the Raiders did what they had to do: Find a more credible option at quarterback to carry out their short-term approach. Memories are short, but it wasn't long ago that Matt Schaub was one of the league's more consistent starters. In context, his arrival in Oakland -- at least at this moment -- was an easy call.

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