When the Cowboys recorded back-to-back wins over the Eagles last season (three in all), there was a school of thought (led by the Philadelphia Daily News' Rich Hofmann) that Donovan McNabb had taken his last snap in Philly. Eagles coach Andy Reid insisted that McNabb would be his quarterback in 2010, but then, what else did you expect him to say?
But as the draft approaches, it's becoming more and more likely the Eagles will put off the Kevin Kolb era for at least one more season. Today in his award-winning (I assume) Monday Morning Quarterback column, Peter King wondered aloud why more quarterback-needy teams aren't lining up to trade for McNabb. And I couldn't agree more with Peter on the theory that trading a first-round pick for McNabb is actually safer than spending $35 million or so on a rookie quarterback such as Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen. Here's a portion of Peter's column:
"A playoff quarterback near his prime can be had for a premium price," writes King. "The fact that there's a real chance the Eagles could deal McNabb, and that McNabb is a half-year younger than Peyton Manning and apparently intends to play four or five more seasons, and also apparently has kicked the injury bug, leads me to this question: What in the world are all these quarterback-needy teams doing? Why aren't teams running to deal for McNabb?
"The prime object of this game in the personnel area is to get a quarterback who can win games and lead your team, and a good, proven one is out there. The Eagles aren't shopping him, but they surely are listening. I asked a coach with a quarterback need about McNabb, and the coach said because McNabb is on the last year of his contract and would probably need to be re-signed, and the fact that Philadelphia would want a high draft choice for him in a very good draft, and the fact that he doesn't have a lot of years left, all combine to make it a tough trade. Understood. Good factors all. But McNabb is 33.
"I have my own problems with McNabb. I don't consider him on the Manning-Brady-Brees plane. I think the Eagles should go with Kolb and make the best deal they can for McNabb this offseason, because, basically, it's Groundhog Day in Philadelphia. Every year's the same, and I don't see McNabb getting Philly over the hump and into another Super Bowl. So why would I want to pawn him off on another quarterback-needy team when I don't think he's a top-five quarterback? Simple. Because he's a top-10 or top-12 quarterback, and they're too hard to find to let one pass when he's just sitting there for the taking.
"McNabb would shore up any team's most important position for the next half-decade. Some team's going to take Jimmy Clausen between, say, the fourth and 20th pick in the first round, and whoever takes him is going to have no idea if he's the long-term solution at quarterback."
In the case of the Vikings, they can't make a play for McNabb until they hear from Brett Favre. But even if they're willing to offer a first-rounder for McNabb, the Eagles might not want to help out a team that competes in the same conference. But if teams such as the Bills or Rams (same conference but not a true threat) put a nice package together, surely the Eagles would be interested.
A scenario in which McNabb, Kolb and Michael Vick all return to the Eagles still seems unlikely despite what you're hearing on at least one network. Courage awards aside, Vick had no choice but to say all the right things in '09. But I could see him becoming extremely frustrated during another season of limited Wildcat reps. I don't think it makes any sense for the Eagles to bring him back. Do we think that Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will spend much of this offseason trying to develop an expanded Wildcat package?
Former Eagles general manager Tom Heckert is now with Cleveland, so I thought he might make a play for McNabb. But now the Browns have signed former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, a man coming off by far the worst season of his career. Perhaps a team will finally panic when we get closer to the draft and make a strong offer for McNabb.
But if not, it looks like the Eagles are prepared to go with a lame-duck quarterback in 2010. I think you're asking for problems with that approach, but maybe the Eagles are willing to take the risk. Meanwhile, Kolb continues to say all the right things publicly. Something tells me, though, that he won't be thrilled with yet another season on the sideline. Call it intuition after watching how much he enjoyed those two starts in '09.
One last note from King: Eagles quarterbacks coach James Urban and Mornhinweg were in the Bronx on Friday to watch Fordham quarterback John Skelton's pro day. Doesn't that seem like a little overkill for a late-round prospect from a school not known for being an NFL farm system? (apologies to Fordham grads Alex Wojciechowicz and Vince Lombardi of Seven Blocks of Granite fame).