The Redskins have traded their 2nd round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and a 3rd or 4th round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Donovan McNabb. The Eagles have been trying to trade McNabb for much of the offseason, but many teams were scared off by his contract, which has one year and $11.2 million left on it and a $6.2 million roster bonus on May 5. McNabb is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2011, if the NFL plays games. [A owner lockout of players for the 2011 season is considered increasingly likely.]
McNabb, who turns 34 in November, had a passer rating of 92.9 last season after throwing for 3553 yards, 22 TD and 10 Int. He completed 60.3 percent of his passes, averaging just over 8 yards per attempt. For his career, McNabb has thrown only 100 interceptions in 4746 attempts, the lowest percentage in NFL history.
This trade completely shakes up Washington's offseason, as McNabb instantly becomes the favorite to start at quarterback this season. We don't know if incumbent Jason Campbell, for whom McNabb has served as something of a mentor, will be traded or if Head Coach Mike Shanahan prefers to keep Campbell around as a backup in case of injury. Washington does not have an experienced backup quarterback on the team, apart from Campbell.
This also shakes up the NFL Draft, as Washington will clearly not now use its 4th overall pick on a quarterback. With McNabb getting older and not as mobile as he once was, a stout offensive line becomes more urgent than ever. One would think acquiring a stud left tackle like Russell Okung will be a top priority in the Draft.
It is exceedingly rare for a team to trade a starting quarterback within its own division and the last time the Redskins did something like this was when they acquired Sonny Jurgensen from the Eagles in 1964 for QB Norm Snead and CB Claude Crabbe.
This is a puzzling move for the Redskins. If he stays healthy McNabb can play for 4 or 5 more years and a 2nd round pick and a 3rd or 4th next year is not a high price to pay for a top QB for 4 or 5 years. The problem is the contract. To make this deal without getting McNabb's signature on a contract extension is ridiculous. But why would McNabb sign a contract extension with the Redskins? It's well known that McNabb wants to play for a winner and the Redskins are not a winner. Perhaps McNabb can help turn them into a winner, but without a decent offensive line, that doesn't seem likely. Trading for an older franchise quarterback only makes sense if the franchise quarterback is the only piece missing. I'm not sure how anyone who watched Redskins games last year could conclude the team is only one quarterback away. They need a lot more than that.
Also, Washington has just cancelled the rebuilding project and decided to try to win now. They've gotten older at running back, signing the 30-year-old Larry Johnson and the 29-year-old Willie Parker to go with the older-than-he-really-is-at-28 Clinton Portis. Now, they've added a quarterback who turns 34 during the next season. It's like George Allen has returned and is bringing his Over The Hill Gang with him.
We will see how this works out, but the contract situation could be very troubling and we still need to see how the Redskins plan to surround their new expensive passer with the talent he needs to succeed in a very tough division.
Do you think the Redskins just got the better of a division rival? Perhaps they have, but over the last 10 years Andy Reid and the Eagles have many more good decisions than the Redskins have.