Falcons agree to deal backup QB Schaub to Houston

ATLANTA -- In a move that figures to have significant ramifications for the incumbent starters from both teams, the
Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday agreed in principle to trade three-year veteran quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans.

When the trade is completed, Atlanta and Houston will flip-flop first-round picks in April's draft, and Atlanta will receive Houston's second-round picks in 2007 and 2008. The deal will be announced Thursday. Houston has the No. 8 pick in the first round of the draft, while Atlanta is slotted 10th.

Sources told ESPN.com that the trade is contingent upon the Texans reaching agreement with Schaub on a contract and negotiations have already begun.

"We have an agreement in place," Joby Branion, Schaub's agent, told Houston's KRIV-TV. "I dealt with [Texans general manager] Rick Smith on Ahman Green a couple of weeks ago. That gave us a great deal of comfort heading into these discussions believing we could get something done and we did. It wasn't easy but I think both sides are comfortable with where we are."

KRIV also reported on its Web site that Schaub and Branion arrived in Houston on Wednesday afternoon.

In acquiring Schaub, the Texans have ostensibly conceded that five-year veteran David Carr, the top overall player chosen in the 2002 draft and a quarterback in whom Houston has invested considerable time and money, is no longer their quarterback of the future. At the same time, the departure of Schaub indicates that new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino is sold on Michael Vick, who is said to have made a strong impression on the rookie sideline boss in their first few months working together.

Schaub, 25, has been the subject of trade rumors for each of the past two springs. ESPN.com reported last Friday in its "Tip Sheet" column that Falcons officials seemed prepared to begin listening to trade offers for him and had begun discussing possible replacements.

One of the strong candidates to replace Schaub as the backup to Vick, ESPN.com has learned, is Anthony Wright, who played with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006.

Despite starting only two games in three seasons and winning neither of them, Schaub is highly regarded around the NFL. The former Virginia standout, a third-round pick by Atlanta in 2004, has completed 84 of 161 passes for 1,033 yards, with six touchdown passes and six interceptions.

Schaub was a restricted free agent this spring and the Falcons made him the highest qualifying offer possible, at $2.3 million. That qualifying offer meant that, had another team signed Schaub to an offer sheet, and Atlanta not matched it, the Falcons would have received first- and third-round draft choices as compensation.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.