How the McNabb deal shakes down


For a long time, I’ll remember being on a training run for the marathon as the Jay Cutler deal went down, and feverishly texting details to my old bosses at The Sporting News. Ditto for yesterday … I was on a layover at Denver International, on my way back from a ski vacation at Big Sky in Montana, as Donovan McNabb shed green for burgundy and gold.

Really shows the power of football, too, as the deal completely buried anything to do with that stick-and-ball sport news-wise, outside of Boston and New York, and that NCAA basketball final too. Seems like the Tiger Woods press conference in Augusta is the only thing that stands a chance.

This Easter Day shocker will reverberate through the NFL, and the Patriots are close enough to feel the aftershock. In a good way, that is.

I mentioned 10 days ago that McNabb going to Oakland could be a bad thing for the Patriots, since the Patriots have the Raiders’ 2011 first-round pick, and in that regard, it’s clearly a win for New England. Even as the Raiders have accumulated some nice talent elsewhere, and seem to stand a chance to ascend to mediocre in 2010 (their division has teams in transition and they get the NFC West on the schedule), they remain seriously deficient at quarterback and that’ll help keep New England’s selection high.

It doesn’t end there, either. As our pal Tim Graham points out over at, Buffalo was in the mix, too.

Who do the Patriots have to thank for all this? McNabb himself. See, the quarterback had some control over all this, in that he could refuse to accept a contract extension, or tell a potential Philly trade partner he had no interest in re-signing there, and get that team to back off. Oakland may have had him in without a deal, but the Eagles did McNabb a solid there.

As for the final analysis of this one, it really depends on how you feel about McNabb.

I’ve been writing (and saying) for two months now that the Eagles were ready to hand the reins to the offense over to fourth-year pro Kevin Kolb, and that had more to do with all this than anything. He’s just 25, will get paired with a wealth of young skill position talent (TE Brent Celek, 25; WR DeSean Jackson, 23; RB LeSean McCoy, 21; WR Jeremy Maclin, 21; and so on) there, and if Philly wanted to play him, McNabb couldn’t be there for it.


I’d credit the Eagles for having the guts to do this. Feels a little like the Patriots dealing Drew Bledsoe to the Bills, and Philly has to have similar conviction that McNabb won’t come back to kill them, being in the same division and all.

How much does he have left? Here’s what a high-ranking NFC pro scout who’s done dozens of write-ups on McNabb told me a little over a week ago (t appeared, in part, right here):

“He’s probably still in the top half of the league’s quarterbacks. But there’s more inconsistency now. He holds on to the ball for too long, but he still has the ability to beat you. Things have to be right around him. Before, pressure didn’t bother him as much, because he’d use his legs to get outside the pocket. Now he doesn’t do that as much. His speed’s going, and his willingness to get out of the pocket is too. And his accuracy throwing on the run is still good, but not what it once was. …

“He’s got to be willing to accept that it’s not all on his shoulders, and he’d have to be in a place where the pressure isn’t all on him, a place where they play field position and run the ball and play defense. There aren’t so many options. He can still do it, but you wouldn’t want him in a place like he has been, with Andy Reid’s ‘Chuck-it-first’ offense. If it’s just like it was with (Brett) Favre — where he went to Minnesota, had the running back, the receivers and the defense, and it’s not all on him — it can work.”


A ringing endorsement, that isn’t.

But when the possibilty of Oakland was raised to the scout, he mentioned that the Raiders have “a ton of athletes”, and that they could ascend with McNabb.

Which, in the final analysis, makes this deal a good one for the locals.

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