I have had a full five days to digest last Sunday's announcement that the Eagles had traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. My initial reaction was not one of shock or dismay rather I would describe it as "puzzled" mainly because he went to a division rival.
The fact that the Eagles traded McNabb really should not have come as a surprise to anyone who has followed how the Eagles operate as a franchise over the past several years. At the end of the 2008 season when the two sides could not agree upon a contract extension and opted to just fatten up the final two years of McNabb's remaining contract, the hand writing was on the wall.
What sealed the deal was Kevin Kolb's performance this past season in the two games he started when McNabb was out with a concussion. All Andy Reid needed to see how well he threw the ball (85 attempts for 718 yards) and he was licking his chops as if he were at an all-you-can-eat rib joint.
I'm still not sure that Reid is the one that pulled the trigger on this deal, which brings up a whole other set of questions, but he now knew in the back of his mind that he had someone to step into his offensive system that could run it the way he wanted it run.
Another factor was McNabb's age. The Eagles are known for jettisoning players once they hit their 30's no matter what they have contributed to the team in the past. For the most part these decisions have been correct as history has shown that particular player’s best days were behind them. That all changed when they released Brian Dawkins. Last season with the Broncos he proved he had a lot left in the tank and the Eagles defense suffered tremendously in his absence. I tend to agree with their decision to release Brian Westbrook as with his health concerns he is better off retiring from the game. The jury is still out on Donovan McNabb.
I think he does have a couple of solid years left in his career and I still expect to see him end up with a Super Bowl ring somewhere along the line, but this may actually be the best move for all parties involved. Donovan gets a chance to be the center of attention with a brand new team that will constantly feed his enormous ego. The Eagles get to test their theory that they can plug a quarterback with a big arm into their system and still continue to perform at a high level.
I’m still not sure why the Eagles struck a deal with the Redskins. One conspiracy theory says it was to keep Washington from drafting one of this year’s top QB’s with their fourth overall pick. There may be some legs to this as while I am not thrilled at the prospect a facing McNabb twice a season for the next three or four years, if the Redskins would have had a shot at drafting Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen and they turned out to be the next coming of Peyton Manning, things could have ended up being much worse.