Despite last week’s breathless anticipation about a pending trade of Donovan McNabb by the Eagles, we can all back away, at least for the moment. Nothing to see here. Step away from the scene.
At least for now, there’s no deal for McNabb (or Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick), and perhaps there won’t be one at all. Living outside of Philadelphia and having been a consultant with the Eagles (and knowing their passionate fan base), I certainly understand the swirl of rumor and intrigue. But these things are never as easy or uncomplicated as they seem.
Supply and demand
The Eagles are in an interesting position with their quarterbacks, one that’s enviable yet uncertain. They have three capable players – all of different skills sets – under contract. Most NFL teams do not have this luxury, and there’s a noticeable dearth of talent at the sport’s most important position. In the past month, a quarterback named Charlie Whitehurst signed a contract that may average $4-5 million and allow for a much bigger payday in two years. Former Eagles No. 3 quarterback A.J. Feeley signed for two years and $6M. Recently terminated (his contract, not him) Jake Delhomme will receive $7M from the Browns next season to go along with his $13M from the Panthers. Quarterbacks make what appear to be incongruous amounts simply because of supply and demand; they are hard to find.
The Eagles have three of them, which, in theory, gives them some leverage in trade discussions (read negotiations) with other teams around the league. When the trading period opened on March 5, they were in a position to set the opening offers. Whatever price they set – if they did set one -- was either met with counter offers or decisions by other teams to pass, move on to other options or, most likely, simply wait. These negotiations are dormant for the moment but are always a phone call away, moving toward a reckoning point on draft weekend in late April. The important point is that, like any negotiation, these things are fluid, often changing with outside factors from week to week, day to day or even hour to hour.
Things can change quickly
At this time last year, while working with the Eagles, I remember how the team had been rebuffed several times in efforts to acquire Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters from the Buffalo Bills. The Bills had heard the offers from the Eagles for many months and decided to pass on several occasions. Then, on a Friday the week before the draft, the Bills called and wanted to put the negotiations back on track -- a fast track, it seemed. Within a couple of hours, the deal was made, pending a contract negotiation with Peters that we worked on into the night, culminating with a signing in a corner of a busy restaurant with dozens of curious diners peering over.
With Peters, a stagnant negotiation took a dramatic and rapid turn toward a consummated deal. Perhaps it was something that happened in a meeting at the Bills front office that morning; perhaps it was a workout of a college player; perhaps it was a newfound confidence in a backup player behind Peters; perhaps a realization that the deal from the Eagles looked better than it had before. Or it could have been countless other reasons.
The point is that these deals can sit idle for days, weeks or months before something works to change the dynamic and the action heats up quickly and purposefully.
So the Eagles deal(s) on the table for one of their quarterbacks – and it may be for more than one – sits idle for now. But that is, as we know, for now. Things can stay the same, or they can – and have – change quickly.
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