The Redskins have benched Donovan McNabb for the remainder of the season, making him their No. 3 quarterback behind Rex Grossman and John Beck, and it's now realistic to assume that McNabb's tenure in Washington will be over this offseason.
Head coach Mike Shanahan did not mince words at the press conference following the announcement of McNabb's benching, saying that he could not guarantee that McNabb would be with the team next year or that the Redskins wouldn't look to the draft for their solution at quarterback.
Although McNabb famously signed a contract extension following his benching in Detroit, it was made clear in the days that followed that the deal had a lot of phony money in it and the Redskins could walk away after this season without a lot more harm. Complicating matters, of course, is that the Redskins gave up multiple draft picks to acquire McNabb and surely would want something in return. For years, they have been spendthrift not only with their money (Albert Haynesworth comes to mind) but also with their draft picks, seldom having a full till come April.
There is little chance that Shanahan believes that Grossman has any better chance to succeed down the stretch than McNabb or that Grossman might be playing for his future in Washington. In fact, the way we hear it, Shanahan is setting up Grossman in a difficult position — similar to the one McNabb has faced most of the season — with the idea that he, too, will fail and Shanahan can sweep the decks clear in the offseason.
Well, that's not entirely true, as Beck seems to have interested Shanahan in some way, and he could be with the team next season. But if it's in a starter's role, many will be surprised.
Whatever the end result, the feeling in the Redskins' locker room is not a pleasant one right now. They feel like the autonomous Shanahan — who failed to discuss benching McNabb first with son and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — is attempting to undermine his players and use McNabb as a scapegoat for what has not been a well-executed season.
That kind of sovereignty comes with a price, and Mike Shanahan has to be careful not to lose his locker room before he ever had it. Unless, of course, he intends to get rid of most of those players.