NFC East: McNabb Traded

McNabb news conference about to begin

April, 6, 2010
Quick programming note: We're moments away from Donovan McNabb's introductory news conference. If you want to watch it live, it's on ESPNEWS. I'll provide some analysis on the blog about 30 minutes after the news conference ends.

Obviously, we're skipping our weekly chat due to the McNabb news conference. We'll get that rolling again next Tuesday.

The Big Question: Can McNabb add 7 wins?

April, 6, 2010
NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Does the arrival of Donovan McNabb automatically make the Redskins a playoff contender?

[+] EnlargeDonovan McNabb
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDonovan McNabb is an upgrade at quarterback, but the Redskins still have plenty of holes to fill.
In some precincts, such as our Web site, there have been suggestions that Donovan McNabb's presence alone puts the Redskins in the conversation for an NFC East title. I've attempted to temper some of that enthusiasm for the trade, but some folks are convinced the Redskins leapfrogged the Eagles and Giants with Sunday's blockbuster move.

For the record, I do think that McNabb makes the Redskins a more formidable team. His leadership qualities and the fact that he's been in a ton of playoff games gives him instant credibility in Washington. And he's about to feel the warmest embrace since he was playing at Syracuse. All the angst that those of us outside of Philly really don't have a handle on will vanish in the loving arms of playoff-starved Redskins fans.

That said, it's hard for me to imagine McNabb making a seven-win difference. And it would take seven more wins to put the Redskins, who were 4-12 last season, in the conversation for a division title. When Brett Favre joined a 10-win Vikings team, they had the best running back in the league and a talented, if raw, group of wide receivers. He also inherited an offensive line with a lot more stability than what McNabb will encounter in Washington.

The Redskins have some talent at wide receiver with Santana Moss, Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas, so it's not a stretch to think McNabb could elevate that group. He won a lot of games with the likes of Freddie Mitchell and Greg Lewis at wideout. Over the past couple of seasons, McNabb has benefited from the rise of tight end Brent Celek. And the Redskins are actually deeper at that position with Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.

The other positive for McNabb is that he'll be playing for a head coach, Mike Shanahan, who truly commits to the running game. Andy Reid's offense was all about the passing game, which put constant pressure on McNabb. If the combination of fading stars Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker somehow works for the Skins, McNabb could be even more effective in the passing game.

But as I keep saying, the biggest question is whether the Redskins can overhaul one of the worst offensive lines of the modern era. Quarterback Jason Campbell would look across the huddle and see complete strangers last season. Does anyone know what Edwin Williams looks like? McNabb can still move in the pocket, but he's no longer the escape artist that we remember from four or five seasons ago. If he had lined up behind last season's unit, I'm pretty sure the Redskins still would've had a losing season.

The Redskins should be pretty solid on defense, although they need to create a lot more turnovers. But the season will hinge on whether McNabb can elevate a lot of young players who haven't sniffed the playoffs. To answer my own question, I still don't see them as a contender to win the division.

Should Skins move down in first round?

April, 6, 2010
In his latest ESPN Insider column Insider, Mel Kiper discusses the ripple effect the Donovan McNabb trade will have on the draft. It's amazing how so many teams and players have been affected by the blockbuster move. Here's what Kiper said about the Redskins potentially moving down in the first round:

"The Skins have a choice," writes Kiper. "While it's obvious they need to get a tackle, [Russell] Okung isn't that far ahead of guys like Bryan Bulaga or Anthony Davis as a pure LT. If the Skins can move down and perhaps recoup a third-rounder in the process, that could help them get more out of the draft. (Problem is, the teams just in back of them that could also need O-line help, such as Seattle, Buffalo, Oakland or San Fran, will know this group of LTs just as well. So Washington must hope one of those organizations truly covets a player like Okung.)

I think the Redskins will stay at No. 4 and select Okung. Then they will wait a long time before picking again. And for the record, I think Davis is the offensive tackle who will slip the most in the first round.

Schefter: Skins talk extension with McNabb

April, 5, 2010
The Washington Redskins have begun talking to quarterback Donovan McNabb about a contract extension, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. With only one year left on his Eagles contract that was signed in 2002, it was pretty much understood that McNabb would receive an extension from the Redskins.

I don't think the contract talks will drag into the 2010 season. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the parameters of the deal are already in place. Without a new collective bargaining agreement, it will be tricky to figure out how to distribute the money. But this deal would not have been made with a one-year rental in mind.

Expect to hear about McNabb's new contract before the draft this month. And at this point, I'd be very surprised to see Mike Shanahan draft a quarterback No. 4 overall. Obviously, you can't get one with the No. 37 pick now. We'll keep you posted on any developments on the McNabb front.

And in case you missed it, here's the interview I did with Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb earlier this afternoon.

Kolb checks in with the Beast

April, 5, 2010
Eagles starting quarterback Kevin Kolb had a series of interviews set up in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon, but he was gracious enough to place a phone call to the NFC East blog. He was home alone Sunday evening when coach Andy Reid called to tell him he'd been promoted to the starting role. Kolb said he took a moment to absorb the news before calling his wife and family members.

[+] EnlargeKevin Kolb
Howard Smith/US PresswireKevin Kolb says he's ready to take the reins in Philadelphia.
"Andy called and said, 'You're the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles,'" said Kolb of the conversation.

During his news conference, Kolb said he'd been preparing for this day since he was 6. His father was a high school football coach in Stephenville, Texas, so Kolb particularly enjoyed telling him the news Sunday night.

"He knew I wanted to do this for a long time," said Kolb of his father. "He still thinks of me as a small-town, west Texas kid. I just reminded him that this was what I was born to do."

There were no signs of nerves as Kolb addressed reporters during a news conference Monday. He said he's already worked to be mentally prepared for the type of week-to-week scrutiny that comes with playing quarterback in Philly. But don't expect him to act like anyone other than Kevin Kolb.

"I don't just block out the bad things that are out there about me," said Kolb. "I also block out the good things. That's the way I've always conducted things."

Kolb said that he and McNabb have missed each other via phone since last night, but he's gone out of his way to express his appreciation for how the veteran quarterback treated him. McNabb wasn't happy when the Eagles drafted Kolb in 2007, but he apparently never took that out on the young quarterback.

"He was very accepting from the start," Kolb told me Monday. "The first time I ever walked in the facility, he walks up, shakes my hand and says, 'I'm glad to have you man.' From that point on, it was a great rapport. It would get really awkward in that quarterback room if we didn't get along. The best thing I learned from him is how to handle the media and the scrutiny that comes with playing here. Even with all the criticism, he always had a smile on his face. He never let his teammates notice if he was bothered by something. And he was always in a good mood. Hopefully I can keep that going."

Kolb said he truly realized he could play in this league during the Saints game last season.

"I came back last offseason and I just felt so much farther down the road," said Kolb. "But when the bullets started flying in that Saints game, that's when I said, 'Man, I got this.' That was my ah-ha moment for sure. I had the belief that I could handle this."

Kolb bristles every time the word "rebuilding" is mentioned in association with the 2010 Eagles. He thinks the fact that young players such as LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek have all gained valuable experience will help him get up to speed. That's why he didn't hesitate mentioning the words "Super Bowl" at least three times during today's news conference.

"Those guys have been in the battle," he said of his young teammates. "They know what this league asks of you. We're not lowering our expectations one bit. I can guarantee you I'm not."

OK, I'm supposed to visit with Kolb's college coach, Art Briles, this evening. I'll have that on the blog Tuesday. It's been a remarkable 24 hours in the NFC East. I'm hoping to sit down with Kolb in person soon. I'll let you guys fire some questions for him if you're interested.

Report: Skins offered Haynesworth

April, 5, 2010
In what is an intriguing subplot to the stunning Donovan McNabb trade, ESPN has learned that Washington offered defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in one of its first attempts to land the quarterback. The Eagles didn't have any interest in acquiring the highly paid defensive tackle, so the teams moved away from that scenario, according to the report.

Since Haynesworth was owed a $21 million bonus last Thursday, you'd have to think the Redskins brought up this proposal before that time. But no matter the timing, it's a pretty telling statement that coach Mike Shanahan and his staff aren't exactly thrilled about moving forward with Haynesworth. At the recent owners meetings, Shanahan said he "disagreed strongly" with Haynesworth missing the club's offseason conditioning program. He gave him credit for addressing the issue in person, but it was obvious the coach was miffed.

Haynesworth signed a $100 million contract with the Redskins last year, including$41 million in guaranteed money. He complained about his role in Greg Blache's 4-3 defense and now he's not embracing the nose tackle position in Jim Haslett's 3-4. But no matter how much Haynesworth complains, I don't think the Redskins are going to find a team willing to take on his contract.

Kolb: 'I didn't even blink'

April, 5, 2010

I just finished watching Kevin Kolb's first news conference as the starting quarterback for the Eagles. I didn't detect an ounce of nerves as he talked about his future with the club.

"I didn't even blink when [head coach] Andy [Reid] told me. I really didn't," said Kolb. "I'm excited about it. I'm sure it will have a little drama, but it will be a fun ride. I truly have that outlook on it. I think this team will surprise some people."

Kolb came across as a guy who's spent years preparing for this day. He was appropriately respectful of what Donovan McNabb accomplished with the Eagles, but he brushed any talk of rebuilding. And he mentioned the words "Super Bowl" a few times.

"That’s been our goal since I've been here, since Andy’s been here," said Kolb. "That's not going to change because we're going younger. ... We will have the same focus day in and day out like when we were trying to make those runs with all the veterans."

Kolb said he never grew impatient about waiting his turn because of his trust in the organization. In his only two starts for the organization (both in '09), Kolb performed pretty well, which gave the Eagles even more confidence in him.

"I trusted the organization, I trusted Andy to get me here one day," said Kolb. "The times last year when I started that I felt I was ready, but the team wasn't ready, maybe the city wasn’t ready. I knew Andy would put me in the situation to be the starter."

Kolb vowed to reach out to fellow Texan Drew Brees for advice on how to survive the peaks and valleys of being a starter in the league. That certainly would be a wise move heading into the 2010 season.

The Eagles didn't do Kolb any favors by trading McNabb to the Redskins. It will make it even easier for fans to make comparisons. But there wasn't anything in Kolb's demeanor Monday that suggested he was all that concerned about trying to fill McNabb's shoes.

He only knows how to be Kevin Kolb. And that's the guy Philadelphia has chosen to take over the reins.

Does Campbell have any trade value?

April, 5, 2010
As we continue to unpeel the stunning Donovan McNabb trade, it's time to ask whether Washington Redskins incumbent starter Jason Campbell has any trade value. He just turned 28 and he's in good health -- especially for a guy who played behind the Redskins' regrettable offensive line in '09.

[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
James Lang/US PresswireWashington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell threw for a career-best 3,618 yards in 2009.
ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. is reporting that Buffalo, Carolina, Oakland and Jacksonville have all showed interest in Campbell following Sunday's trade. And my colleague Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. thinks the Bills or Raiders would be wise to send a second-round pick in this month's draft to the Redskins for Campbell. I certainly think Campbell's a viable option for one of those teams, but not even Al Davis would trade away a second-rounder for the Skins quarterback.

Let's remember that the Redskins have spent the past couple of offseasons desperately searching for Campbell's replacement. That's not exactly how you drive up a player's trade value. I think the Redskins would eventually settle for a fourth- or fifth-round pick for Campbell. But I hope that doesn't happen.

Campbell's probably hoping for his outright release, so he can have a say in his next destination. It would be almost cruel to ask him to stick around with McNabb and Rex Grossman in 2010. And I don't think Mike Shanahan wants that scenario.

Shanahan and Campbell will meet this afternoon, according to The Washington Post. If I determine what's said in that meeting, you'll be the first to know.

Reaction to Donovan McNabb trade

April, 5, 2010
  • Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid discusses why he decided to trade Donovan McNabb within the NFC East, the difficulty of making the deal and his expectations for Kevin Kolb.
  • Sal Paolantonio shares his thoughts on the McNabb deal. Paolantonio says that McNabb wanted to go to Washington and his decision on a long-term deal will depend on if there is football in 2011.
  • John Clayton explains what the McNabb trade means for the Redskins, Eagles, Kevin Kolb, Jimmy Clausen, Brandon Marshall and more.
  • Brian Seltzer dishes on the factors that influenced the McNabb trade and the impact the move will have on the Eagles' locker room.
  • Adam Schefter explains how the McNabb deal came to be. The Eagles and Redskins had been talking since the beginning of the year about making something happen but neither thought it would take place.
  • Paolantonio says the Eagles trade of McNabb has been two years in the making. The Eagles have shed payroll this offseason and are now also one of the youngest teams in the league.
  • Redskins running back Clinton Portis was "shocked" by the acquisition of his new teammate.

Monday Beastlines: Special McNabb edition

April, 5, 2010
Let's take a look at what folks around the country are saying about Sunday's blockbuster trade between the Redskins and Eagles:

The history of the No. 37 pick

April, 5, 2010
In Sunday night's blockbuster trade with the Redskins, the Eagles accomplished their goal of landing a top-42 draft pick for 33-year-old quarterback Donovan McNabb. And Eagles fans might be interested to know that teams have done pretty well with that pick over the years.

According to our friends and ESPN Stats & Information (Jason McCallum), it's been 25 years since Philadelphia selected Randall Cunningham with the 37th pick overall. And former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski just happened to be a No. 37 pick in 1973 -- for the Rams.

Other notable picks at No. 37 overall:

  • Darren Woodson, Cowboys (1992)
  • Leonard Marshall, Giants (1983)
  • Cris Collinsworth, Bengals (1981)
  • Jon Jansen, Redskins (1999)

Tap the brakes on Redskins playoff talk

April, 5, 2010
Pardon me for not getting caught up in the apparent playoff euphoria that is sweeping Redskins Park. My esteemed colleague and pal John Clayton has elevated the Washington Redskins to "co-favorite" status, along with the Dallas Cowboys, to win the NFC East.

Sorry, but I'm not there yet. Clayton points out that the addition of Brett Favre to the Vikings added 5.7 points per game and took them from 10 to 12 wins (and an NFC title game appearance).

My issue with that comparison is that McNabb won't have anywhere near the talent surrounding him Favre enjoyed. The Vikings had the best running back in the league heading into the 2009 season. The Redskins counter with a stable of running backs who each peaked about four years ago. I realize Clinton Portis was good in 2008 but he faded late.

Let's not act like drafting Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung in this month's draft is going to completely fix one of the worst offensive lines in the league. What, did you guys get excited about that Artis Hicks signing? He couldn't start for the Vikings last season but I guess he'll get the Redskins to the next level.

By trading for McNabb, Shanahan is acting as if the Redskins are prepared to win now. You don't pay an aging quarterback $11.2 million in 2010 to be a stopgap player. To me, this smacks of the old Dan Snyder way of doing business. McNabb is a blockbuster name like, say, Deion Sanders or Bruce Smith. It sounds like another expensive shortcut, albeit a highly-intriguing one.

But let's not forget McNabb finished his 2009 campaign by playing miserably in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys. Are the Redskins a better team with McNabb at quarterback? Of course they are. But it's hard to imagine him making a seven-win difference -- and that's what it would probably take to challenge for a division title. Clayton immediately has the Redskins passing the Eagles with this move.

"As for the Eagles, who were 11-5 last season, the pressure falls on the unproven quarterback Kevin Kolb," writes Clayton. "With this being his first year as the full-time starter, we can expect a two- or three-win drop in the Eagles' record because first-year starters have difficulty winning close games. The Packers experienced that after they traded Favre to the New York Jets for a second-round choice in 2008. Even though Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 4,000 yards in 2008, he struggled in the fourth quarter of close games, and the Packers dropped from 13-3 to 6-10."

Again, the good news for Eagles fans is that McNabb isn't exactly inheriting the Fun Bunch. Santana Moss still has breakaway speed, but he needs time to get open. And let's not act like McNabb is the same guy who once kept a play alive for 14 seconds on "Monday Night Football" against the Cowboys. In Philadelphia, McNabb played the majority of his career with offensive tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. He'll likely be breaking in a rookie on his blindside in 2010 and the pedestrian Stephon Heyer will man the right side.

This is certainly a fascinating trade in terms of its impact on two franchises, but to say that Washington and Dallas are the co-favorites in the division is a pretty big stretch.

What does trade mean for Jason Campbell?

April, 4, 2010
Jason Campbell/Donovan McNabbUS PresswireThere doesn't appear to be a place for Jason Campbell, left, now that Donovan McNabb is on board.
I reached Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell by phone earlier this evening and he said he found out about the trade by turning on his television. Campbell isn't ready to comment, but he did say that Donovan McNabb had reached out to him via text.

I've said many times that the best thing that could happen to Campbell is a trade or a release from the Redskins. Despite the fact that he has improved every season since taking over midway through the 2006 season, Campbell has had to deal with all sorts of turmoil. He's been the consummate teammate, but the 28-year-old will be much better off with another organization.

The Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon knows McNabb well and he's also been a strong supporter of Campbell's. He thinks both players will be better off because of this trade.

Campbell has not signed his restricted free-agent tender yet. The Redskins put a first-round tender on him, but obviously they would come down on that trade demand. Since the Redskins already have McNabb and Rex Grossman in the fold, Campbell won't have much trade value. Teams will likely wait for the Redskins to release him.

Eagles TE Celek reacts to trade

April, 4, 2010
I've been reaching out to a few of Donovan McNabb's former teammates this evening in an attempt to gauge their reaction to this trade. Eagles tight end Brent Celek is a close friend of Kevin Kolb, but he understands how important McNabb has been to the franchise. And Celek's career took off late in the '08 season in large part because McNabb started to gain trust in him.

"Don was one of the players who helped bring the organization up to what it is today," Celek told the NFC East blog. "He was a great teammate and leader. I will miss playing with him, and I wish him the best in the future."

But at least McNabb will have two scheduled reunions per season to catch up with his old teammates. By the way, John Clayton has already elevated the Skins to "co-favorites" in the NFC East. I'm not quite as optimistic, and I'll tell you why at some point during the next 24 hours.

Shanahan's statement on McNabb trade

April, 4, 2010
A few minutes ago, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan released the following statement about Donovan McNabb joining the organization:

"Donovan is an accomplished quarterback who has been a proven winner in the National Football League," said Shanahan. "I have long admired his competitiveness and feel he will be an outstanding addition to the Redskins and our community. He knows our division and the roadmap to success in the NFC East. He will set a high standard of excellence and we are very excited to welcome Donovan to the Washington Redskins."

I'll be back in a few moments with some thoughts on how this trade impacts Jason Campbell.