QUOTE: “I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.” -- Harry Emerson Fosdick
A Norm Snead kind of deal
Sunday night, I had a six-hour flight to L.A. and spent most of it working on my morning column. When I landed, my phone went nuts with the news that Donovan McNabb was being traded — to Washington. Washington? Last Friday, on NFL Network’s “Total Access,” I reported that the Redskins were involved, but the Eagles seemed reluctant to trade within the division and face McNabb twice. However, that reluctance turned to a major deal, and now the Eagles will see McNabb twice a year and most Eagles fans will be holding their collective breaths.
The common thread to achieving success in the NFL is having a good coach, a quality quarterback, a left tackle and a defense that can rush the passer. With the acquisition of McNabb, the Skins have improved to the point that they can now achieve success. They have one of the best coaches in the league in Mike Shanahan, they will now be able to draft a left tackle (Russell Okung seems to be the right pick) and they already had a defense that could rush the passer. Are the ‘Skins perfect with this trade? Hardly, but they are now a team that can win against most anyone. This trade raised them quickly from the dead and had to leave the Cowboys and Giants wondering why the Eagles had to keep him in the NFC East. Of all the places for McNabb to end up, I’m sure the Giants and ‘Boys never thought it would be in Washington helping Mike Shanahan restore the Redskins.
Why didn’t the Eagles just hang on to McNabb for one more year, let his contract play out and take the compensatory pick and move along? Why trade him to a team in their own division? They have a good team and an explosive offense that features the down-the-field throwing of McNabb, so why not leave well enough alone?
The Eagles felt the time was right, that durability issues with McNabb were a concern and it might be best to trade the player a year too soon. This deal to Washington has to make the Eagles feel like they know McNabb very well. They know what bothers him from a scheme standpoint and know he will not be as affective -- much like Bill Belichick knew trading Drew Bledsoe to the Bills was never going to cause him problems, in large part because of Bledsoe’s declining skills. But McNabb does not have declining skills; in fact, he’s a year younger that Peyton Manning, and some (although probably not a lot of Eagles fans) might say that McNabb’s best years are ahead of him. The combination of Shanahan and McNabb -- both recently fired from their respected cities with much to prove -- make this trade very dangerous for the Eagles.
What happened to the Raiders? Sources in the McNabb camp will say he controlled the deal by telling them he wasn’t interested in playing in Oakland. The Raiders will say they were never really interested, but we know better (Baghdad John Herrera at work). The Raiders were not going to add McNabb and his $12 million salary unless they could clear some money from their current roster (hence the rumors about high-priced cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha being in the deal). Remember, the Raiders have been cutting costs since the signing of kicker Sebastian Janikowski and the tagging of defensive tackle Richard Seymour. They released Justin Fargas, Greg Ellis and Gerard Warren because all three were due roster money, and the team didn’t want to commit more cash to an already high payroll. Unless they could clear the room (yes, I know it’s an uncapped year, but most teams operate with an internal budget), they could not add McNabb.
The trade is risky on the Eagles’ part because they have to be worried about Shanahan’s ability to bring out the best in his team. In terms of talent, the Redskins have one of the best defenses that Shanahan has ever coached, so to make this team really good, he must turn around the offense. And that has to worry Eagles fans, because Shanahan is very, very good at making offenses work.
In 1964, the Eagles traded QB Sonny Jurgensen to Washington, and that trade helped the ‘Skins. I think this trade has helped the ‘Skins as well, and the Birds must hope they can win with Kevin Kolb — but more about that later.
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For a look at how the McNabb deal may affect Jimmy Clausen's draft stock, check out this article from Bleacher Report.
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