Who is in the lead for Donovan McNabb now?
According to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, it’s the Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills. Two destinations that make sense, right? A different story and different speculation than what we saw Wednesday when reports surfaced that the St. Louis Rams were the leaders for McNabb’s services for the 2010 season.
There have now been multiple denials from the Rams — along with one from their head coach — and they seem to be suddenly out of the mix. But what about the two new teams front and center in the sweepstakes? Can the Eagles drive up the price high enough to get what they want from these two clubs?
From a straight football standpoint, both Oakland and Buffalo make sense as logical landing spots — and both are in serious need of a major upgrade at the quarterback position.
Let’s take a look…
Let’s be up front and honest about JaMarcus Russell. He hasn’t shown us anything that provides hope or future consideration as a franchise QB. Head coach Tom Cable has given Bruce Gradkowski the opportunity to become the starter in Oakland this offseason because Russell has not shown he’s capable of holding down the role of a No. 1. Yes, Russell could surprise us this offseason and into training camp by taking control of this Raiders offense, but would you take that chance — again — while a veteran like McNabb is available?
With McNabb, you start to look at the Raiders as a serious competitor in the AFC West. Think about the young receiving corps and how they would respond to a veteran QB who expects them to be accountable and prepare and play like professionals. I like the Raiders because that they can run the football and play defense — complete with a front seven that’s vastly underrated. But you can never count on them because of the QB position. Would Oakland possibly be willing to trade a first rounder for McNabb? Remember, there’s a reason teams like to trade with the Raiders.
Because of whom they hired. Chan Gailey is an offensive head coach, and no matter what is publicly said about the collaboration of Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm, you need a quarterback in Buffalo who can compete with Tom Brady and the Patriots — a club that has owned the Bills. The Bills have talent at the offensive skill positions that would benefit from having McNabb in Buffalo, in particular WR Lee Evans, who is one of the most underrated players in the league at the position — a physical, vertical receiver who needs a top-flight QB. Plus, don’t underestimate the importance of Gailey if he goes into his first season on the sidelines with a proven veteran QB.
The flip side? The Bills drag out a QB competition between three guys who aren’t going to make a push for the AFC East title, or make a play at No. 9 next month in the NFL Draft for Notre Dame signal-caller Jimmy Clausen. But the question with the Bills is simple: What are they willing to give up in return? As much as we talk about the possibility of McNabb, this is a team that still needs major upgrades along the offensive line and on defense — where they’re installing the 3-4 system under new defensive coordinator George Edwards. However, if you’re the Bills, why not put your best offer on the table?
A franchise QB would look good along the shores of Lake Erie, and it doesn’t force this team to start over with a rookie or veterans who haven’t won.
Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41