Eagles fans have not known a full-time quarterback other than Donovan McNabb for the past 10 seasons, but they better get used to hearing a new QB's name in 2010.
By all accounts, a deal shipping the veteran McNabb out of Philadelphia is imminent, with the Eagles publicly acknowledging that they're entertaining offers and multiple suitors interested in his services. It has become a matter of "when," not "if," and it's a move that ultimately will benefit the franchise.
The Eagles are in a rare situation, in possession of three QBs — McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick — who each could be deemed starting-caliber. If they were ever going to trade away a passer, the time is now, and McNabb is the one it makes the most sense to part with.
In addition to the fact that he's 33 years of age, the Syracuse product has been a constant injury risk for years, dealing with numerous ailments and playing in all 16 games just once since '03. In the final year of his contract and due a $6.2 million roster bonus in May, Philly could wind up paying McNabb a boatload of money this season, having him get hurt and then watching him leave a year from now.
Given the Eagles' stash of QBs, that's not a risk worth taking. In Kolb, the club has a 25-year-old second-round pick who has waited in the wings for three seasons and appears ready for his chance to shine. Just as Aaron Rodgers did while sitting behind Brett Favre in Green Bay, Kolb showed flashes of brilliance when called upon — he threw for 718 yards and four TDs with three interceptions in two starts last season, all three picks coming against the Super Bowl-champion Saints. Lacking only McNabb's experience and monster arm, the talent-laden offense shouldn't suffer with Kolb running the show.
There's also the matter of getting something for McNabb while he still has value. No one can doubt his accomplishments — he's 92-49-1 as a starter, has led the Eagles to eight playoff appearances and has notched a handful of Pro Bowl nods. Given this track record and the fact that he should have a few productive seasons still remaining, Philly should be able to net a decent draft pick in return for its QB — reports indicate the team is targeting a top-42 selection. In a draft deeper than it has been in years, that choice would allow the Eagles to plug some of their defensive holes.
A trade elsewhere wouldn't be all bad for McNabb, either. Although he has expressed his desire to remain in Philadelphia, he never got the appropriate respect from Philly fans for all he has done for the organization. If he lands in a place like Buffalo, Oakland or St. Louis — three squads in desperate need of a legitimate starter — McNabb would be seen as a savior and instantly appreciated by the local fan base. He might struggle to succeed right away with any of these downtrodden franchises, but at least he'd be getting paid after likely signing an extension.
In a perfect world, McNabb would spend his entire Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Eagles, retiring after leading the team to a championship. But that's not the way the league works — just ask LaDainian Tomlinson. Regardless of head coach Andy Reid's fondness for his quarterback, it's time for Philadelphia to move on — and pick up value for McNabb while it still can.
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