Matt Schaub doesn’t know if his career as a football player will end Sunday when the Falcons wrap up the regular season at Tampa Bay, but he’s just about positive he wants to stay around the game, whether he’s wearing an NFL uniform in the future.
The Falcons backup quarterback is cooking up backup plans, but don’t make any plans to call him “Coach Schaub.”
With 15 NFL seasons to his credit, Schaub will become an unrestricted free agent soon, and it’s not clear whether the Falcons will invite the two-time Pro Bowler back to caddy a fourth season for starter Matt Ryan. He’d like to finish his playing career where it began.
“I love the game, still think I can do it, so I would love to keep playing. I love this organization, and I would love to see if they want me back here,” he said. “We’ll see what happens when the season is over, assess the situation and think about it, talk with my wife and see where things go.”
If he doesn’t pick up a satisfactory answer from an NFL team next spring or summer, Schaub probably won’t stray far.
“Keeping some options, some doors open. I want to still remain involved in the game somehow, or around sports in some form or fashion whether it’s trying to do broadcasting or with an organization somehow. We’ll see if coaching is an option, but I know how many hours it takes.
“As a coach, doing it the right way, that’d be quite a commitment on my behalf taking away from family time, but we’ll see.”
That family takes up time, to be sure, as Matt and his wife, Laurie, recently welcomed their fifth child into the world.
Schaub hasn’t seen much playing time in his second stint with the Falcons, playing in four games in 2016, none in ’17 and three this season. He’s completed 6 of 10 passes for the Falcons in that time for 36 yards, but don’t mistake his sparse numbers.
He has knowledge.
The Falcons drafted him in the third round out of Virginia in 2004, and after he played sparingly for three seasons outside of holding the football for placekicks, the team traded him to Houston Texans in 2007 for second-round draft picks in ’07 and ’08.
Kyle Shanahan coached quarterbacks at the time, and served as Houston’s offensive coordinator in ’08 and ’09, when Schaub led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards, 396 completions and 583 attempts. He went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, filling in for New England’s Tom Brady, and took home MVP honors from the game.
Even after Shanahan moved on to Washington, Schaub put up numbers and went to the Pro Bowl again in 2012.
There wasn’t much action for him with the Raiders after he was traded to Oakland in 2014, and after he was cut there, he went to Baltimore for a year and stepped in to finish the season under center after starter Joe Flacco blew out a knee in the 11th week.
He and Laurie liked Atlanta in their first stopover in the city, and when the Falcons called in 2016 in part because of his previous working relationship with the team’s offensive coordinator, Shanahan, it was easy to say yes to a second tour of duty.
As he wraps up a two-year, $9 million contract, Schaub’s future is uncertain, team officials have not yet decided whether to invite the quarterback to return to the organization.
“It’s definitely something that we’re going to discuss,” coach Dan Quinn said. “He has been behind the scenes a fantastic leader on our team, and he’s performing well, so it’ll definitely be something to discuss.
“There’s lots of tough decisions with players and signings and all that that factor into it, but for sure he’s in the discussion.”
Schaub is not counting on another tour with the Falcons, but if an offer comes, that decision will in some ways be easier for him to act upon than if other teams are interested in his services.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be (with the Falcons), it just depends on where my wife and kids are,” he said. “We’ll just see what opportunities might be out there and we’ll discuss it from there.”
If he’s done, Schaub will leave the game with numbers. He’s played in 148 NFL contests with a record of 47-45 as a starter, 24,887 passing yards on 63.9 percent, 133 touchdown passes and 90 interceptions. Oh, and he’s rushed for 360 yards and four scores and been sacked 178 times.
Whatever happens next, he hopes to remain close to what he knows so well, and it’s especially hard to get away from the idea of broadcasting if indeed his playing career is over.
It’s become more common for players to move almost immediately behind a microphone, as Tony Romo and Jason Witten have in each of the past two years.
“I definitely want to try to stay involved in football in some capacity. It’s been such a big part of my life,” Schaub said. “I feel like I can explain the game and the action so that people ... could take quite a bit away from it and understand the game a little more. It’s something I might aspire to do.
“You see it more and more nowadays with guys who have retired, just get thrown to the wolves.”