Authored by Andrew Perna - 4th April, 2010 - 10:44 pm
On a near picture-perfect Easter Sunday on the East Coast, the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves through the NFL by trading long-time quarterback Donovan McNabb to the rival Washington Redskins.
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The Eagles will receive a second-round pick (37th overall) in this month's NFL Draft and a either a third- or fourth-rounder from the Redskins in 2011.
While the timing of the deal was a tad peculiar, it's the destination that is raising eyebrows.
Washington had been mentioned in rumors as a potential destination for McNabb, who dominated headlines in recent weeks as Andy Reid softened on his loyalty to #5, but trading him within the tough NFC East wasn't something that seemed to be a real possibility.
Philadelphia always flashes good business sense, cutting ties with fan favorites and still-talented veterans in favor of younger, cheaper players regardless of emotional attachment. Until Sunday night, McNabb was the only member of Reid's roster that was exempted from such a move, especially since he appears to have at least another season or two of above-average play left.
McNabb was Reid's first pick as the head coach of the Eagles, who took him second overall in 1999 after the Cleveland Browns grabbed fellow quarterback Tim Couch. Over the last 11 seasons, the pair have become Philadelphia legends in every sense of the word.
McNabb will be considered the most decorated player in franchise history until someone else comes along and maintains a high level of play for as long, but the reactions in the Quaker State varied drastically following the trade announcement.
The city of Philadelphia often gets knocked around as both the best and worst in professional sports, and the shouting after McNabb was dealt to the Redskins included both exclamations of joy and frustration filled with expletives.
In many ways, the Eagles have been 'the boy who cried wolf' over the last few years. Every offseason McNabb's name was mentioned in trade rumors and every fall he was still in green-and-black. The fans forever showed impatience with him, but the organization seemed to always stick by him.
In terms of simply dealing McNabb, a trade makes sense. He's in the final year of his contract and moving him now assures the Eagles that they'll get something in return for him while his value also remains fairly high. A second-rounder (in addition to a pick next April) is good value and in-season deals, especially involving quarterbacks, aren't as prevalent in the NFL as they are in the three other major sports.
Still, trading him within the division comes as somewhat of a shock.
The Eagles will have to face McNabb twice in 2010, including once at Lincoln Financial Field where the reception he receives will be something to behold. There will undoubtedly be some boo-birds, but it wouldn't be shocking if he received the largest ovation of anyone prior to the game.
Washington is undergoing a transition with new coach Mike Shanahan and now a new quarterback in McNabb, but the same could be said for the Eagles, who go from a seasoned veteran to a still unknown commodity in Kevin Kolb.
McNabb, 33, has 148 games under his belt, having thrown for 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns and 100 interceptions. Kolb, on the other hand, will be 26 when the season begins and has appeared in just 12 games. He has 885 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions to his credit.
Kolb was impressive in two starts this past September while McNabb nursed an injury, but two games (a win and a loss) is hardly enough to prove your weight as a starting NFL quarterback. Scouts and team officials have long raved about Kolb and his abilities, some even suggesting that he's better-suited for the West Coast offense than McNabb, and it won't be long before we found out exactly what he has in his right arm.
There is another quarterback in the mix as well, a certain Michael Vick. He moves up to No. 2 and stands just a tweaked ankle or bruised shoulder away from becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL after a tumultuous few years. Just eight months ago, that would have seemed like an unlikely possibility.
Following the trade, the Eagles have 11 picks in the draft and I wouldn't be surprised if they used one on a quarterback in the event that Kolb isn't the future and Vick can't handle the reigns either.
No matter how well Kolb does out of the gate, the Eagles will likely take a step back in 2010. The Redskins have now upgraded at quarterback, created a stable of running backs that all have premier pasts and added a Hall of Fame coach. The Giants and Cowboys didn't end last season on the best note, New York more so than Dallas, but neither have taken steps back this offseason. The immediate future of the Eagles is hard to forecast.
The McNabb rumors, however, went further than ever before this spring and in recent days it almost appeared as though the Eagles reached the point of no return. Reid, months after saying that McNabb would be his starter in 2010, admitted to listening to offers for his quarterbacks and news that Vick would remain in Philadelphia all but spelled the end for either McNabb or Kolb.
Grade for Philadelphia: B-
The Eagles could have bumped their grade up had they dealt McNabb outside of the division and maybe even higher had they sent him to the AFC. They got good value for their franchise player and may be vindicated if he starts to decline away from the only NFL home he's ever known.
Reid and Philadelphia's front office, including owner Jeffery Lurie and president Joe Banner, deserve some praise for not allowing emotional attachment to alter the decision-making process. They have been stuck in neutral since losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX and at the very least they are showing that the status quo isn't acceptable.
The acquisition of another second-round pick will allow the Eagles to continue adding young, cheap pieces as they remain at least respectable in one of the toughest divisions in all of sports.
Grade for McNabb: A-
No matter how hot his seat got in Philadelphia, McNabb always kept a smile on his face and trotted out on the field for the Eagles. There's no telling what he's really feeling inside, but leaving his home of 11 years isn't going to be an easy endeavor.
However, he will move to a familiar team, play at a familiar stadium in FedEx Field and still face the Cowboys and Giants twice a year. He'll also have a legendary coach in Shanahan to help ease the transition.
Washington has some weapons for McNabb to use, like tight end Chris Cooley and wide receivers Santana Moss, Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas. Although, that crop certainly doesn't compare to the cast of receivers he passed the ball to in Philadelphia.
With that said, he won't have to play for the inept Raiders or wait for Brett Favre to make up his mind in Minnesota; the starting job should be his to lose in Washington. His experience, having led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games in 11 years, will be very valuable to the Redskins.
Also, you can't look past the fact that he'll have a chance to show the Eagles what they gave up on twice this coming season.
Grade for the Redskins: B+
The quarterback position as been a point of contention for quite a while in Washington. They've had Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Mark Brunnell, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck, Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, Tony Banks, Jeff George and Brad Johnson since McNabb landed in Philadelphia.
For the first time in well over 10 years, the Eagles will start an established quarterback. If Shanahan implements his principles and practices quickly enough, there isn't any reason why Washington can't at least contend for a postseason berth. They can now use the fourth overall pick to fill another hole on their roster, whether it be by selecting a rookie or trading down for a lower selection and a veteran in return.
The risk of adding McNabb is also much lower than using a high, costly pick on a quarterback that could disappoint at the professional level.
McNabb will be playing without a contract past 2010, assuming the Redskins don't look to extend him in the coming days. He isn't the type to be motivated by financial concerns, but will be trying to prove to the NFL that the Eagles made a mistake by cutting ties with their franchise leader in almost every possible statistical category.
If nothing else, this trade will create some great television. I'd be willing to bet my first born that both Philadelphia-Washington games will be nationally televised, perhaps in prime-time, and now a rivalry that was getting a little stale (the Eagles have won 11 of 16) has been given a shot of extra juice.
I've always maintained that the city of Philadelphia wouldn't realize how good they had it with McNabb until he was gone.
That time could be drawing near.
Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: APerna7.