by Michael Lombardi
March 25, 02010
QUOTE: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
We are now entering the “Be careful what you believe” phase in the NFL. Starting Wednesday and moving forward, the league is now in its rumor period. In the past, it mostly centered on draft talk, but now, with trading between teams highly active, it applies to everything you hear or read. As my colleague Matt Bowen wrote this morning, the Eagles announced they’re listening to offers for all their quarterbacks, specifically dealing with a false rumor involving the Rams and Donovan McNabb. The Rams, as Matt pointed out, vehemently denied the talk, which was based on having safety O.J. Atogwe included in the deal and made this a bad trade rumor. Atogwe is the Rams’ franchise designee for 2010, and for the Rams to trade his rights, he would have to sign his tender — which he has not done. So even before the Rams denied the trade, it was sketchy.
With Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s announcement that the team is entertaining offers for its quarterbacks, the momentum for rumors has heated up. But with all rumors, you must analyze the reality of the teams being mentioned. For example, one rumor had the Cardinals interested in McNabb — which made some sense last month but makes no sense now after they signed Derek Anderson and announced that Matt Leinart is the starter. Yesterday, the Cardinals declared they are not interested in McNabb.
If the Rams intend to draft Sam Bradford, which many in the NFL believe will happen, why would they dabble in the McNabb market? Some may think that McNabb would serve as the starter while Bradford learned the pro game. This might be a great idea in theory, but not in reality. The Rams are not going to pay for McNabb in draft picks and money and then draft Bradford and pay him large sums of money. As is always the case in almost every business, follow the money. The McNabb rumor to the Rams doesn’t make sense if the Rams are going to draft Bradford.
Let’s consider some of the teams that might be dipping their toes into the McNabb waters. The most obvious is the Buffalo Bills. They make sense because they don’t have significant money tied into a quarterback. The Raiders make sense, too, especially since they traded for defensive lineman Richard Seymour last year without an extension. So they might be willing to trade for McNabb without any additional years.
What about all the other teams that might be interested? Cleveland has said it’s not interested now, as it has made two moves already and plans to draft a quarterback. Denver is not going to be involved in any McNabb talk. What about Seattle? Last month maybe, but now, having given up draft choices and money for Charlie Whitehurst, the Seahawks appear to be settled in their minds at quarterback. Carolina has $12.6 million tied up in a quarterback who’s not even on their roster, so I doubt they would spend outside the draft on a quarterback, especially one who’s not signed for next season. The 49ers should be interested, but apparently they’re more focused on the draft than McNabb.
So who’s involved? Buffalo makes great sense, but will the Bills make the move? Do they have the resources to get it done, and can they make McNabb happy with an extension? All questions that need to be answered before a deal. Oakland also makes sense because the Raiders need a quarterback, especially one who can lead the team. Would McNabb be happy in Oakland? Not unless he gets an extension — a very large one.
At this time of year, one must not forget that being serious with trade talks and actually making a trade are two different enterprises. Both parties have to be motivated to make a deal, and in the case of McNabb, he has to be willing to engage in some extension dialogue. There is much that has to come together before talk becomes real and a trade is actually made.
There will be no Diner tomorrow, but I’ll be back this weekend for the Sunday Post. No, I’m not heading to Amsterdam to cash in my winnings from Bowen, who has yet to pay.
Have a great weekend.
Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi