Schaub's new deal with Texans finalizes trade

The trade that sent Matt Schaub from the Atlanta Falcons to the Houston Texans not only made the three-year veteran quarterback an instant starter, it made him a very rich man.

Schaub signed a six-year, $48 million contract with the Texans, a move that officially consummates the trade. As part of the deal, Schaub -- who played golf with Houston coach Gary Kubiak on Monday in a get-acquainted session, the Houston Chronicle reported -- will receive $7 million in guarantees. Schaub has not won a regular-season start and barely completed 50 percent of his pass attempts in three seasons with the Falcons.

"This is another exciting moment in the history of the
Texans," team owner Bob McNair said at a news conference Thursday. "Winning is all
about getting better every day, and that's what we're trying to

Schaub, 25, will earn roughly $20 million in the first three years of the contract.

After the first three years, the Texans must pay Schaub a $10 million option bonus in March 2010 to trigger the final three seasons of the contract, or he becomes a free agent. This is the same Houston team, though, that paid the soon-to-be-discarded David Carr a "buy back" bonus of $8 million last spring to reinstate three years of his contract that had voided.

On Wednesday night, agent Joby Branion termed the Schaub deal "a real contract" -- meaning it was a legitimate deal for a starting-caliber quarterback -- and he was accurate in that assessment.

Certainly the economics of the deal all but mandate that Schaub will be the Texans' starter. And for Schaub, a third-round choice in the 2004 draft, it represents a financial windfall. As a rookie, Schaub signed a three-year, $1.365 million contract. It included a signing bonus of $445,000 and annual base salaries at the NFL minimum.

Had he signed the one-year restricted free agent qualifying offer the Falcons made him early in the spring, Schaub would have had a base salary of $2.3 million for 2007. There was, his agents told ESPN.com more than a year ago, no way that Schaub would have considered a long-term deal that would have carried him past the 2007 season, since he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency at that point.

Whether Schaub would have been able to earn more by signing a one-year contract with the Falcons for 2007, and then going into the open market as an unrestricted free agent next spring, is now a moot point and a matter of speculation.

Suffice it to say the contract that he signed to complete the Wednesday trade agreement is a healthy one.

As for the Falcons, the trade allows the cap-strapped team to essentially recoup the $2.3 million qualifying offer it made to Schaub and invest that money elsewhere. And the haul the team received in the trade -- a swap of first-round choices in 2007 and second-round picks in the 2007 and 2008 drafts -- provides Atlanta with considerable flexibility.

The Falcons now own three selections among the top 44 picks in this year's draft: the eighth choice in the first round and the seventh and 12th selections in the second stanza. Armed with that kind of ammunition, the Falcons could parlay those three choices to move up the draft board in the first round, perhaps to nab hometown hero Calvin Johnson, the former Georgia Tech wide receiver. Or the Falcons could combine the two second-round picks to acquire another choice near the middle of the first round.

Most teams use a chart, principally developed by former Dallas and Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, that assigns a points value to every choice in the draft. The corresponding points for the eighth pick in the first round is 1,400. The two second-round choices owned by the Falcons are worth 510 points (the seventh choice in the round) and 460 points (the 12th).

The total points value for the Falcons' three choices in the first two rounds is 2,370 points. On the points chart, the second overall choice in the entire draft, owned by Detroit -- which is rumored to be interested in trading back -- is worth 2,600 points. Atlanta would fall a little shy of that, but not by much, with its 2,370 points for the three choices in the first and second rounds.

But the Falcons have more than enough points to trade up to the No. 3 overall pick (points value: 2,200) or the fourth choice (value: 1,800 points), if they desired. By combining the two picks in the second round, with a total value of 970 points, Atlanta could net the 17th overall selection (points value: 950) in the first round.

The early read is that the Falcons, who definitely need to replenish their talent base and desperately require reinforcements at a number of key positions, simply will stand pat and exercise all three of their high-round choices. That should, in theory, net Atlanta three top-tier prospects who could play quickly for first-year coach Bobby Petrino.

But in making the Schaub trade, the Falcons have provided themselves the potential for maneuvering up the draft board if they want, and for being active and creative in the early stages of the lottery.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.