Friday, March 26, 2010

Vikings Can Have Cake and Eat It Too

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.

8 comments:

james_hollo said...

This is a great opportunity to improve the team. We should trade our second round pick and T Jack for Mcnabb even if Favre is coming back.Speaking of trades its obvious that Raiders dont wanna pay Nadi so we should offer them our first round pick and lock him up to contract extension he is clearly better than any corner we will get in the draft.What do you guys think an all pro quarterback and a shut down corner for a first and second who arent guaranteed to be great IMO this is a no brainer

vikes geek said...

James,

I'll have more on this issue in the next column. Suffice it to say for now, despite the way most front office execs play the game, taking a known quantity with numerous years left is preferable to building through the draft--assuming a one for one swap.

VG

comet52 said...

McNabb's 5 yard outs in the dirt, laughing on the sidelines after he blows a big game, inconsistency, bloated salary, and inability to win the big game are enough to let me know he should never be in purple. It would be yet another Chili-Philly pipe dream that doesn't pan out. Our coach is hopeless when it comes to developing qb talent, ironic since he supposedly developed McNabb, a guy who has been the most overrated qb in the NFL for at least 6 years. Mr. Lump of Clay has to find aging vets because his various qb projects all turn from clay to mud. McNabb in purple simply means however many years of postseason futility before someone else takes over. Finally, I would bet real money that Favre will be back this year and I would not blow that opportunity for a shot at greatness for a middling qb whose value is inflated by media know-nothings, when the reality is his very average qualities were made to look better by great team defenses over the years.

Cabrito said...

This useless quarterback kicked our ass in the Vikings-Eagles playoff game two seasons ago, as I recall.

DC said...

VG:

While I'd be more than happy to take McNabb off the Eagles hands, I highly doubt he's willing at 33 years of age (and soon-to-be 34) to be a back up behind Lord Favre – even for one season.

Now if he was traded to the Raiders, didn't sign an extension and became a free agent in 2011 at the same time as Favre retires after one last season, this could work out almost perfectly for the Vikings.

But I'm probably dreaming.

Cabrito said...

I have a question for you, VG. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the Vikings are maybe only a few players away from the Super Bowl. On that theory, they simply need to fill a few holes in the upcoming draft, and then they'll be ready to roll (assuming Favre returns, of course).

I wonder. Will a couple of rookies be able to make a significant impact in key positions like corner back, safety, OL? I doubt it. Your view?

Then there's another school of thought, that the Vikings should draft a defensive tackle to replace Pat Williams when he goes. Not a bad idea. But frankly, there's a more important position that needs to be addressed to increase the likelihood of future success.

Quarterback.

The Vikings have not had a genuine franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton. Maybe Tommy Kramer came close for a few years, but since then they've made do with castoffs (think of Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, et al.) or late round draft choices like Brad Johnson. TJack is certainly not the answer. Other teams over the decades have distinguished themselves by drafting or acquiring young quarterbacks that ultimately became the faces of their franchises -- Bradshaw, Montana, Elway, Favre, Manning, and so on. Now the Lions, Packers, and Bears have promising young quarterbacks. As I said, the Vikings have been lacking such a player since Tarkenton. If they had a chance at the end of the first round of this year's draft, and if Colt McCoy or maybe even Tim Tebow were still available, do you think they should take the plunge and draft him for the future instead of filling one of their other holes?

vikes geek said...

DC,

With McNabb having joined Washington, I like your scenario as a strong possibility for 2011.

VG

vikes geek said...

Cabrito,

Dove-tailing from DC's question, the Vikings clearly need to be looking to the future. Were I the GM, I would be guarded about relying on the draft to find my quarterback of the future. Most successful quarterbacks are drafted at the top of the draft. That means big signing bonuses and contracts, assuming one has a pick that high. It's an awful large commitment of resources, particularly given that nearly as many highly drafted quarterbacks wash out in the NFL as succeed.

That would not keep me from looking at quarterbacks after the first round, however. If, for some reason, Clausen and/or McCoy were to be available when the Vikings draft at the end of round one, the option(s) would be intriguing. I would same the same of Tebow, were he available at the end of the second round, and of Jevon Snead, were he available at the end of the third round.

In round one, the Vikings must take someone who has the ability to play immediately or who will be able to replace Favre when Favre retires. I like Clausen over McCoy, but McCoy has his supporters. With that said, I prefer taking solid tackles and guards at the end of round one. More so than cornerbacks, offensive linemen stick around the league and pay dividends on first-round money.

VG