Head coach Andy Reid stood by his postgame statement following the Eagles' 34-14 playoff loss to the Cowboys that QB Donovan McNabb is his starter next season. "I was asked [after the game] if Donovan will be my quarterback next season and I said, 'yes,' " Reid said Monday. "That's what I'm saying now … That is my call." McNabb is entering the final year of his deal, as is promising backup Kevin Kolb. The future is unclear in Philly for QB Michael Vick, who had a 76-yard TD pass in the loss but could be trade bait for another team looking for a starter.
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Reid's words were strong, but he has backed away from iron-clad statements in the past. And there was one key word that stood out: "now." Although it's too early to suggest that Reid is ready to change his stance on McNabb, the next few months will be telling. The team could opt to extend McNabb, but NFL rules state that contracts cannot be altered twice in the same calendar year. He would have to wait until after mid-June to add years to his deal if in fact the Eagles would be interested in extending him.
Kolb had the best first two starts of any NFL quarterback and has earned the praise of the Eagles' staff consistently over the past year. But they risk losing him after next season if the Eagles do not wrap him up as well. Beyond Kolb, there is no more QB depth, assuming Vick (who also is up after 2010) is not back. And it would be surprising to see both Kolb and McNabb given extra years on their deal. The Eagles must decide the future of the QB position between now and August, it appears.
Vick likely will be dealt. The Rams are among the teams looking for a quarterback who might be interested. He would be easy to evaluate for former Eagles QB coach Pat Schurmur, who now is the Rams' offensive coordinator, because he knows the team's personnel and schemes well.
But the talk now is about McNabb. He did not play his best down the stretch, even considering the offensive line problems and run-game deficiencies. But prior to the two Cowboys losses, McNabb was playing good football and giving young WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, not to mention TE Brent Celek, chances to make plays after the catch. He understands Reid's schemes very well and has as good a skill-position group to work with that he ever has.
"Donovan is a great player," Reid said. "His work over the last 11 years has proven that. I truly believe it's a team sport and it's not all about one guy."
But will McNabb want to play without a year or more added to his deal? He has made noise about his contract in the past and might again once things settle down. That could be the story of the Eagles' offseason. Again.