The rumors of the Raiders pursuing Donovan McNabb are hot and heavy. Here is a look at Donovan McNabb and the options that may be available for the Oakland Raiders to get this veteran QB who is still in his prime.
Word on the street is that Donovan McNabb has requested of the Eagles leadership that he not be an Oakland Raider or a Buffalo Bill at the end of all this trade rumor hoopla. There is another rumor that he wants to play for Minnesota. So far, no reports have the Vikings showing any interest in trading for the six-time Pro Bowl QB. Why would they? They are already scheduled to pay Brett Favre around $12 million. Oakland, however, is reported to be in hot pursuit of the 33 year old gunslinger.
McNabb’s NFL journey started in 1999 when the Philadelphia Eagles new head coach Andy Reid decided that McNabb was the guy that he could build a successful NFL franchise around. McNabb was to be his centerpiece, and Reid was prepared to set the table around the former Syracuse All-Star quarterback. That never truly happened. The only piece that was ever really given to McNabb was the often injured halfback Brian Westbrook. Terrell Owens was there for a year as a solid starting receiver before he ran his mouth ended up being suspended and eventually traded.
The bottom line is that prior to the past two drafts, where the Eagles have brought in guys like Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, and Westbrook replacement halfback LeSean McCoy, McNabb was having success with fill-in role players on the offense with him. Even Westbrook wasn’t drafted until the third round. If you go back and look at their draft history you will see what I am talking about.
Despite his lack of offensive weaponry, McNabb led the Eagles to the playoffs in nine of his eleven seasons as their starter. That run included six trips to the NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance which they lost to the “cheat-happy” New England Patriots; who have been rumored to have a pretty good view of the Eagles practicing the week before that Super Bowl game.
Eagles have finally provided McNabb with some solid offensive firepower, but they’ve decided it’s time for him to fly (no pun intended.) McNabb has reached out to coach Reid and told him that he would like to retire an Eagle.
McNabb has put up with a lot of trade rumors over the past few years. Three years ago, the Eagles took QB Kevin Kolb early in the second round of the draft. That was the beginning of the end for Donovan. Even when the Eagles selected McNabb in the first round of the ’99 draft, the Philly fans booed him. For the past two seasons, he had been expected to end up in Chicago. Then the Bears traded for Jay Cutler and they gave up quite a bit for him too. Now, McNabb is fully expected to end up in Oakland or Buffalo. It seems that nobody is pushing for him as hard as the Raiders though.
The Raiders have been rumored to be offering swapping first round picks, All Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and their second round draft pick for Donovan McNabb and Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel. Samuel is a play maker, not necessarily shut-down like Asomugha, but he does make exciting plays and is a proven NFL return man with a nose for the ball and the skills to know what to do with it when he gets it. I am normally against trading a guy like Asomugha, but I’m sort of warming up to this idea. McNabb is one of my favorite happy-go-lucky NFL players who brings a positive atmosphere to all of his games and has great leadership skills. Samuel is a good cornerback. Many times, Samuel is left on an island in coverage as the Eagles sometimes blitz their entire defense except for him. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but everyone in the league knows how blitz happy the Eagles can be.
I am not sure the Raiders even have to offer their Pro-Bowl cornerback in the deal. If the Eagles are ready to part ways with the best quarterback they’ve ever had to go the route of unproven Kevin Kolb, it seems as though a couple of lower caliber players with potential would do the trick. How about swapping first round picks and including that second round pick with Kirk Morrison, who they are already looking to dump, along with free safety and former first round pick Michael Huff. Huff’s eventual replacement is already waiting in the wings in the form of Mike Mitchell, the second round pick from 2009. I’m sure the Eagles would take this into heavy consideration considering they would be getting three players, and a higher pick in the 2010 first round for a player they who is not in their future plans.
With any potential trade, however, there are complications. Many people think that a contract extension has to be worked out with McNabb before any trade will happen. He is due a $6.2 million roster bonus on May 5th of this season and is the final year of his current contract. If not for that bonus, I don’t think being in the final year of his contract would be a hang-up for Oakland who traded for Richard Seymour last season when he was in the final year of his contract. The biggest question will be; ‘are they willing to absorb a huge pay-day for a player before he even takes a snap in mini-camps, which should begin right around the same time McNabb is due his bonus?’
The Raiders should pull the trigger on whatever deal can be reached, regardless of the contract issue. McNabb brings a veteran presence the Raiders have been lacking on offense since Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Rich Gannon suited up for them. Additionally, they have more youthful talent on their offensive roster than the Eagles ever had during McNabb’s time there, excluding maybe last year’s squad. Imagine what an 11-year pro QB who won with basically nothing in Philly could do with the current group in Oakland at his disposal? They would have to bolster the offensive line a bit, but McNabb would prove he is worth every penny for at least two to three seasons in Oakland. The Raiders have the high paid and very talented quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, on their current roster. He could grow exponentially from McNabb’s leadership and then take over the job after McNabb’s retirement. Bringing in McNabb could also persuade Russell to renegotiate his current contract.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Bruce “Radkowski”, but McNabb would be a much better option to start the new decade for the Raiders. Donovan knows there is talent in Oakland too, after the game when the Eagles lost to the Raiders last year McNabb said “I really don’t understand how this team’s record is what it is. They are better than their record.”
Perhaps the one thing that is often overlooked (and never should be) is that Al Davis almost always gets what he wants. He has long been a great owner in this league. We know the history; we know that every player that comes out of his office after meeting with him to this day says that they enjoyed their time talking with one of the most iconic figures to ever establish himself in the NFL. If Davis wants McNabb, then he will be a Raider regardless of what it costs.
–Bret Armstrong, TFDS Guest Contributor