Passan: Schaub in Phil's Plans?

Rich ponders the meaning of some of Phil Savage's recent comments, and fills in some blanks...

Based on what Browns General Manager Phil Savage said last week in his pre-Indianapolis Combine get-together with the Cleveland media, the quarterback situation with his club is not a concern.

"As I sit here today, I can pretty confidently say I'll feel OK about (the quarterbacks) because I feel we'll have done some things around them to make them more of a success," he said.

One, then, would come to the conclusion that incumbent quarterbacks Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson can look forward to an improved 2007 season because the complementary cast will be different and, presumably, better.

As recently as 10 months ago, Savage routinely asked coach Romeo Crennel if he was satisfied with his quarterbacks and Crennel routinely answered in the affirmative. No need to belabor what eventually unfolded in the 2006 season.

Apparently a lot has changed because Savage went on to say that there are "a lot of issues that go beneath to whether a guy can just throw the ball or not. That's what the offensive staff is trying to work through right now.

"If it's Charlie, we can do this list of things. If it's Derek, we can do this list of things. If it's somebody else, what are those guy's strengths and weaknesses?"

Somebody else? Whatever happened to Charlie and Derek?

Did Savage unwittingly (maybe deliberately) drop a clue as to what he has up his sleeve and no one picked up on it?

Word out of Atlanta last week had the Falcons strongly considering slapping a one-year contract tender of at least $2 million on backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who is a restricted free agent.

The high tender, which could yield first- and third-round draft picks if the Falcons decline to match an offer sheet for Schaub, can be circumvented if Atlanta and a trading partner agree on a deal involving players and/or a draft pick.

The Falcons want to get something for him before they lose him next year when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Schaub, a third-round choice in the 2004 draft, has been Michael Vick's caddy for three years and Vick isn't going anywhere. There are those on the National Football League landscape who believe Schaub is more than ready to become a starter.

Could history repeat itself with Falcons quarterbacks? It was nearly 16 years ago that Atlanta selected a young quarterback out of Southern Mississippi in the second round of the college draft. After sitting the kid most of his rookie season, the Falcons shipped him to the Green Bay Packers for a first-round draft pick in 1992.

No one knows exactly what Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren saw in Brett Favre that prompted him to take a chance, but it sure worked out well.

Now along comes Schaub. The question is what it would cost to pry him loose from Atlanta. The Falcons will try for a first-round draft choice, of course, but conventional wisdom suggests a second-round pick (No. 36 overall) would be more prudent.

It's certainly something to which Savage should give considerable thought. Despite the fact that first-day draft picks are considered jewels, the prospect of obtaining the quarterback of the future would be compelling to at least think about.

At 6-5 and nearly 240 pounds, Schaub would bring an impressive package to the Browns. He doesn't have a rocket attached to his right shoulder, but is extremely accurate with his short- and medium-range passes, attributes that would make him a strong choice to run the West Coast offense.

He has impressed scouts in exhibition games with his poise and uncommon pocket presence for someone so young (he'll be 26 in June). And his classic over-the-top delivery ensures that very few passes will be knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

On the negative side, he is not a home-run threat. The quick strike is not in his arsenal. And he sometimes has trouble holding on to the ball. But his positives far outweigh the negatives.

His only problem in Atlanta is the quarterback ahead of him on the depth chart. All he needs is a chance.

If Savage is true to his word – "I feel we'll have done some things around them to make them more of a success" – and strengthens his offense through the draft and free agency, then going hard after Schaub might be what he has in mind.

Grabbing an Adrian Peterson with the third pick in the draft, for instance, would take a lot of pressure off whoever quarterbacks the Browns this season. Home-run hitting running backs can have that kind of an effect on an offense.

And signing a quality offensive lineman or two in free agency, augmented by at least a couple of more grinders in the draft, would go a long way in constructing the kind of an attack for which Browns fans have been waiting way too long.

It certainly would be a lot cheaper than going after JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn if they drop to the Browns in the draft. Neither will make a significant impact as rookies, but Schaub is capable of stepping right in and immediately improving the position.

In order to pull that off, however, Savage has to convince Falcons General Manager Rich McKay that it would be better to get something for Schaub now rather than risk getting nothing for him next season.

Would he be worth this year's second-round pick and, say, linebacker Chaun Thompson? Absolutely. There is no question that Schaub is a better quarterback right now than Frye or Anderson.

With a few other pieces and parts in place, having a quarterback like Schaub might very well signal the start of the comeback of the Cleveland Browns. At least on offense.

The OBR Top Stories