On Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles made it official--for the umpteenth time; they are willing to entertain offers for quarterback Donovan McNabb. What makes this iteration different from previous not-so-subtle announcements to this effect is that the Eagles are now defining sensible demands for such a trade.
In the past, the Eagles have suggested that they would only part with McNabb for a pair of high draft choices. That's never been the market for a 30-plus-year-old quarterback, no matter the pedigree. And given that the Eagles have been looking to move McNabb for essentially the past three seasons, it was a truly absurd asking price. Not surprisingly, no teams have yet moved on McNabb.
With the Eagles voicing more reasonable demands this time around, however, it seems almost certain that McNabb will be in a different uniform in 2010. And if that uniform is not Viking purple, the Minnesota Vikings will have missed a golden opportunity to improve their team next year and for several years thereafter.
Although it appears certain that Brett Favre will return to Minnesota next season, nothing with Favre is ever set in stone until it actually happens. But Minnesota need not know with certainty what Favre's intentions for next season are before deciding whether to move on McNabb.
Despite the sense around the league that Favre will return to Minnesota next season, and perhaps beyond that, McNabb already has expressed his interest in landing in Minnesota, should he be traded to another team. That means that, in spite of the high probability that he will serve as a back-up next year, McNabb still prefers Minnesota to all other teams.
McNabb does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, so his wishes cannot fully govern his trade from Philadelphia. But with only one year remaining on his current contract, it is unlikely that any team would cede much of anything to the Eagles without reasonable assurances that McNabb would negotiate an extension of his current contract. For rebuilding teams like Oakland and St. Louis, teams believed otherwise to have an interest in trading for McNabb, that makes trading a high draft pick for McNabb, highly foolish.
Philadelphia has suggested that it is looking for a draft pick in the top 42 of this year's draft in exchange for McNabb. For all but ten teams, that means a first-round pick. But, like Oakland and St. Louis, those teams in the top ten of the draft are there because they are rebuilding. That makes McNabb both less valuable to them and less likely to stick around beyond 2010-11. All of which raises the question of whether Philadelphia should expect to receive what they are asking.
The probable answer is "no." McNabb's statement of preferred destination--one team and one team only--only increases the probability of that result. And that makes it highly likely that the Vikings have only themselves, and Philly's organizational pride, against which to bid.
Given these factors, it seems highly likely that Minnesota could obtain McNabb for a second-round pick in this year's draft and possibly for simply a third-round pick.
The subsequent question is whether the Vikings ought to pursue McNabb, a quarterback who clearly is better than the average NFL starting quarterback, but who has moments of highly suspect play. If the Vikings wish to ensure against the possibility that Favre will not return, and take seriously the need to find Favre's replacement when Favre finally does leave, the team could do far worse than McNabb. And if McNabb is fine sitting behind Favre for a season--which, it appears, he is--there ought to be no downside to the move, other than the slight possibility of aggravating Favre into early retirement.
Up Next: Really Time to Move.