How the McNabb-to-Redskins trade impacts the rest of the NFL, draft
After McNabb trade, it'd be a big surprise if Sam Bradford didn't go No. 1
For the first time, Donte Stallworth talks about tragic night in Miami
Which teams have the edge draft weekend, plus 10 things I think
This is what the most interesting trade in the NFL since Eric Dickerson to the Colts in 1987 came down to:
From Washington's perspective, Mike Shanahan looked at Donovan McNabb and saw John Elway. In 1995, Shanahan took the Denver coaching job and inherited a quarterback who couldn't win the big one, who'd gotten stale, who'd lost the faith of the locals in Denver to deliver a Super Bowl. Elway, then 35, went on to play four years for Shanahan and win two Super Bowls. In 2010, Shanahan takes the Washington coaching job and deals for a quarterback who couldn't win the big one, who'd gotten stale, who'd lost the faith of the locals in Philadelphia to deliver a Super Bowl. McNabb is 33. He wants to play at least four more years.
From Philadelphia's perspective, and I've written this a hundred times, Andy Reid looked at his team and saw Groundhog Day. Highly competitive every year, falling short every year, usually with some painful offensive futility involved. The vomitous, time-wasting drive at the end of the Super Bowl five years ago, the no-touchdowns-in-the-first-21-possessions frustration in the final two games against Dallas last season. And Reid has a capable young drone, Kevin Kolb, a player whose release, demeanor and progress in three years intrigues him.
I like the trade for both teams. I like Reid trusting himself enough and having enough guts, as Bill Belichick did with Drew Bledsoe nine years ago, to trade McNabb to a division rival. Since the Super Bowl loss to New England, Philadelphia is eight games over .500 in all games, and Reid saw the team hitting a wall. When a coach sees a team getting stale, he has to change, and Reid has done that with the release or trade of nine current or former starters between ages 27 and 33 since the end of the season.
I like Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen knowing they probably couldn't get the college quarterback of their dreams, Sam Bradford, in trade with St. Louis -- and going out and getting a 2010-ready passer who will upgrade their team drastically at the most important position on the field. I'll be surprised if Washington isn't at least four wins better this year, a .500 team.
McNabb should be thankful and supremely motivated. Reid always said through this that he'd do right for McNabb, his first draft choice with the Eagles when he became coach in 1999, and he did. Reid told me last night -- and I believe him -- that he was sure McNabb would have played wherever he was traded, and the fact that he reportedly wouldn't have gone to Oakland and signed a long-term deal there "had nothing to do with this trade.'' But when you trade a quarterback to a team you'll play twice a year, the trading team is thinking: This guy can't hurt us. We know everything about him, and we know we're better turning the page without him.
Those are my initial reactions. Let's dig deeper to see how the impact of the Easter Night shocker will be felt throughout the league.
St. Louis. The Rams no longer will be tempted by any team, except perhaps Cleveland (five picks in the top 100), about moving up to get the number one pick. I've always doubted Cleveland would seriously consider moving from seven to one in the first round to get Sam Bradford. "Too many holes to fill,'' Mike Holmgren says, and he's right. If you're a Rams fan, start watching Bradford highlights. I'd be surprised if he's not your pick at number one on April 22.
Elsewhere at the top of the draft. Washington is left with one pick in the top 100 now (number four overall), and you can be sure it'll be on the market during draft week. Allen knows he has multiple offensive line holes to fill, so teams wanting to rise in the round to have a chance at tackles Russell Okung or Bryan Bulaga (San Francisco? Seattle? Buffalo?) might be able to do business with the 'Skins at four ... Detroit (two) now loses a possible trade-down partner, but Seattle (six) will be hearing from Allen about a swap.
Jason Campbell trade partners. I don't think he's worth much -- maybe a fifth-round pick -- but if, say, the Bills or Raiders want to add him to their mix, I'm sure they can have him. Washington would be happy to go forward with Rex Grossman as McNabb's backup if they could get a draft pick for Campbell, who I never believed was any part of Shanahan's long-term plans.
The NFC East. I'd be worried about the Redskins right now. You've got Shanahan, kicked to the curb by Pat Bowlen a year ago. You've got McNabb, traded to, of all places, an arch-rival. Shanahan's marriages with talented quarterbacks have mostly worked. Elway, certainly. Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler.
I'd be worried about the Eagles too, because Kolb may be the kind of quarterback for Reid that Aaron Rodgers is for Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. No one knew what to expect out of Rodgers except McCarthy, and Rodgers has been aces, obviously. No one's seen Kolb in practice every day except Reid and his staff.
When I talked with Reid last night, he was legitimately excited about the prospect of seeing Kolb in the line of fire. He said to me what he said in his press conference: "Kevin's a young and up-and-coming player that everybody in our building has a tremendous amount of confidence in."
Albert Haynesworth's psyche. Profootballtalk.com reported this morning that Haynesworth, last year's bonus-baby prize in free-agency, was offered to the Eagles as part of the McNabb deal. There's already a chasm between Haynesworth and this coaching staff because he's not working out in the Redskins' offseason program (don't you think the least he could do, making $12-million a year, is work out with his mates in the program the team wants him in?), and you can be sure this news will percolate with him all offseason. It ought to be a pleasant summer camp between Haynesworth and Shanahan.
NFL rivalries. The best before Sunday night (current, not necessarily historical) were Patriots-Colts, Packers-Vikings, Ravens-Steelers, Jets-Patriots. The Eagles-Giants, Eagles-Cowboys, Cowboys-Giants rotated in intensity. Now the Eagles and Redskins will go into that top group for the next three or four years. If I'm Howard Katz, the NFL schedule-maker who has a major headache putting this season's slate together, I'm going back to my drawing board this morning on Philly-Washington to make sure at least one of those two meetings is a national prime-time game.
The Eagle experiment. The last time I saw a playoff team re-tool so drastically over a short period was probably San Francisco in the eighties, when Bill Walsh drafted another wave of great players to replace the Montana-Lott crowd. I'm not putting the Eagles on the Niners' level , but look at the men they've jettisoned in three months:
Oakland, Seattle, Buffalo, Cleveland, San Francisco. These are the teams with shaky veteran quarterback situations (either in talent, age or injury risk), and each has to look at this trade and say, "If McNabb has a great second career in Washington, we blew it by not trading for him.'' I understand part of this is a risk because McNabb may not sign a long-term contract. But you trade for him, then you prove to him you'll do the right things to contend, and then you work to sign him to be your man for the next five years.
Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy ... and maybe Dan LeFevour and John Skelton. I said a couple of weeks ago that the Eagles had sent offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterback coach James Urban to Fordham to scout mid-round prospect Skelton at his Pro Day. I have heard the Eagles will now focus on Tebow and are likely to join the parade of teams working him out and spending time with him. With seven picks in the first four rounds, Philadelphia has the ammo to go get the developmental quarterback Reid always likes to have on his roster. So don't think they won't be in play for one of these players.
Some offseason, huh? I'd like to know when it starts.
NFL Truth & Rumors