NFC East: Fletcher Smith
"I believe there is tension between Donovan and Kyle that's rooted in the fact that Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle's offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career," Smith wrote. "For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan's suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday."
You have to love Smith's statement. He's basically claiming that McNabb's recommendations played a large role in the Redskins' comeback against the Dallas Cowboys. That's probably a bit of an overstatement, but I don't begrudge Smith one bit for strongly defending his client.
The Shanahans have nothing to gain by providing further explanations for their decision to bench McNabb, but they couldn't help themselves Thursday evening. Mike Shanahan issued the following statement in response to Smith's latest open letter:
"As I stated earlier, when I traded for Donovan McNabb I had hoped that he would lead us to the playoffs," said Shanahan. "No one wanted him to be more successful than me. When the team was 5-8 and mathematically out of the playoffs, I made the decision to evaluate our other two quarterbacks.
"This was not personal, but strictly professional. The decision was made in the best interest of the Washington Redskins and I stand by my decision. I will attempt to talk to Fletcher Smith directly to clear up every one of his misconceptions."
I'm sure Shanahan will get right on that conversation with Smith. I'm not a public relations expert, as my editors will attest, but I don't think Shanahan & Son need to deliver a statement every time an agent or player takes a poke at them in public. It's not like Redskins fans are going to read Shanahan's statement and say, "You know, Shanny has a point there."
The Shanahans need to hit restart on their time in Washington. They were supposed to put an end to all the nonsense that we used to blame on Dan Snyder. But they're providing just as much chaos as ever. This has basically been another lost season for the franchise. They should spend more time worrying about this roster, not trying to win a P.R. battle against McNabb.
McNabb hasn't said much of anything in the aftermath of the benching, and that's smart. He's been accurately portrayed as the victim in this ongoing saga, so the Redskins owe him a huge apology. That apology could come in the form of a long-term extension, and more importantly, a large chunk of guaranteed money.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has to know how foolish Shanahan's decision made the organization look. After crowing for months about how they landed a franchise quarterback for a second-round draft pick, the Redskins embarrassed McNabb in front of the nation. The easiest way to make this go away is to demonstrate true commitment to the quarterback.
Maybe that will inspire McNabb to work on his "cardiovascular endurance." I'll be in Washington on Monday for the game against the Eagles and will keep you posted if there are further developments. It's hard to believe now, but the benching two weeks ago probably gave McNabb more leverage than he could've imagined after such a poor start to the season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
In case you somehow missed ESPN's "First Take" this morning, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook stopped by for a few minutes. He discussed his surgically repaired knee and Donovan McNabb's contract status.
"I'm out of my mind ready to go," he said in reference to something head coach Andy Reid said about him during the recent NFL owners' meeting. "So I'm trying to get to that point. I've gone through a lot of rehab and I still continue to go through rehab. [This would be] the first year I've played pain free football for my knee in a long time and I have to kind of rebuild myself back and be ready to play this year."
Dana Jacobson then asked Westbrook whether he thinks McNabb deserves a new contract.
"Well I think Donovan means so much to this football team," said Westbrook. "He brings leadership, he brings a lot of value on the field as well. I also think it's a business type of thing. Do I think he deserves a contract? Absolutely. He's brought so much to this team and this organization -- as well as the city -- and hopefully he'll be able to handle his business in a way he wants to get it done."
McNabb and Westbrook used to share the same agent (Fletcher Smith), but Westbrook dumped him before signing a long-term extension with the Eagles in September. I think the Eagles will eventually sign McNabb to a new contract this offseason. They don't need this hanging over the team heading into '09.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported again Wednesday, the Eagles will soon meet with Donovan McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, to discuss a contract extension. The Daily News' Les Bowen pointed out a couple of weeks ago that McNabb hadn't retreated to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., as he often does this time of year. The thought is that he's hanging around Philly because of the impending negotiation.
I don't believe that McNabb's demanding a huge signing bonus. It's more important to him to have some security -- and perhaps an apology for his November benching. McNabb deserves a lot of credit for bouncing back and leading the Eagles to the brink of the Super Bowl. Does he deserve an apology? Well, that's for Andy Reid and Joe Banner to decide.
Though Reid's decision to bench McNabb served as the impetus for the Eagles' turnaround, the quarterback would never admit that it was a good thing. He felt betrayed by a head coach who has supported him every step of the way.
Who knows what would've happened had Kevin Kolb led the Eagles to a victory over the Ravens in November. My guess is that he would've started the rest of the season. Now, there's a chance we'll never see him as the permanent starter. A healthy McNabb could start for at least two more seasons. He's five years younger than Kurt Warner, so maybe he could play even longer.
McNabb has two years remaining on his current deal with the Eagles. I think he'd like to sign a five-year deal with about $18 million in guaranteed money.
Now I'm anxious to hear what you think. Oh, and here's an interesting story the New York Times did on McNabb last month that you'll find interesting.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will receive $13 million in "new money" in his existing contract. The two sides, apparently, came up with a 52-page document, which seems a bit excessive.
Westbrook had three years remaining on a contract that he signed in 2005. He tried to get something done in June, but talks stalled and Westbrook fired his agent, Fletcher Smith. Todd France took over and things finally came to fruition Friday.
Westbrook will make $21 million over the next three seasons. According to the Inquirer, escalator clauses could increase Westbrook's salary to $24 million. This was something the Eagles had to get done because you don't want an unhappy Westbrook heading into the season.