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Updated 6:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 15, 2010
The Redskins announced Monday that they have signed QB Donovan McNabb to a contract extension. Multiple media outlets are reporting the deal is for five years and $78 million, with $40 million guaranteed. McNabb, who turns 34 on Nov. 25, is set to start his ninth game in a Washington uniform Monday night, facing off against his former team, the Eagles. The extension could be worth up to $88 million with incentives.
The six-time Pro Bowler hasn't been great this season for the 'Skins, throwing eight interceptions and only seven touchdowns. He was also at the center of a controversy after head coach Mike Shanahan removed McNabb at the end of the team's Week Eight loss to the Lions in favor of backup Rex Grossman.
The PFW Spin
All last week during the Redskins' bye, QB Donovan McNabb expressed his desire to "move on" from the controversy surrounding his benching at the end of the loss to the Lions. Well, there's one, good, sound way to do that: Pay the man. Money talks louder than anything in this league, and the Redskins ended that talk with a resounding thud.
The timing clearly is bizarre. The fact that an extension was reached given that agent Fletcher Smith and the Redskins' brass have been talking since April is no surprise. But the timing sure is odd. With all the reports that have come out of Washington — McNabb is out of shape, McNabb can't read defenses, McNabb can't operate Mike Shanahan's offense — the extension proves not everything that was said carries truth.
Of course, we believe that some of it still holds water. Let us take you through a few things that might be happening here. As part of his new deal, McNabb will lead the Redskins for the rest of this season and likely next. But that shouldn't stop Shanahan from chasing Camelot when it comes to a young QB. He still has a vision of John Elway Jr. being out there somewhere, waiting to run this offense. That player is not McNabb, who is a bridge to the next generation.
And remember, even in this post-salary-cap NFL, some of that money is phony. McNabb will not make $78 million, or the additional $10 million in potential incentives as part of the report. In fact, he might not play more than three years more with the Redskins, which would make him 37 or so (McNabb turns 34 in a few days). Given his litany of injuries, McNabb would be lucky to approach that age and still be playing.
Forty million dollars sounds like an awfully big amount of money, though, to most people, and really, it is. But if we say this is more of a three-year deal and less of a five-year contract, we're talking about $13 million guaranteed per season. Consider that Tom Brady will earn $18 million total per season over the next four years, and Peyton Manning and perhaps Michael Vick are set to cash out in similar neighborhoods annually next year. The quarterback position, for the elite QBs anyway, has become a $15 million job. In three years, that could represent the cheap end of things. Drew Brees still doesn't have a new deal, and Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan will be ready for new contracts in a couple of seasons.
Is it expensive for McNabb? Is the timing odd? Yes to both. But the Redskins are awash in cash, they can spend now relatively freely with no cap, and they have a quarterback in place who can play now and keep the team competitive. GM Bruce Allen, the man who engineered the trade for McNabb, has helped smooth things over with the QB and head coach, and talk of their differences should subside. Entering Monday's game, the Redskins remain in the playoff hunt, even with a few losses they would like to have back.
McNabb has been a great leader since his college days, and he has handled just about every source of adversity as a player under the sun. He did a great job of not letting talk of Kevin Kolb replace him in Philadelphia distract him or the team and even encouraged Eagles brass to bring on Michael Vick, serving as a mentor for the troubled QB. McNabb's easygoing personality has been a hit in almost every locker room he has been in, and he likely would handle his eventual replacement like he has with most things he has had to endure: with class and professionalism.