VIA THE WASHINGTON POST:
In their boldest move since Mike Shanahan took over as head coach, the Washington Redskins acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb on Sunday night in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, shaking up one of the National Football League’s most competitive divisions.
McNabb instantly changes the face of the Redskins’ offense, simultaneously casting uncertainty on quarterback Jason Campbell’s future and the team’s plans for this month’s draft. McNabb’s arrival also means Redskins fans can expect a new starting quarterback at the start of a 2010 season that already had promised plenty of change.
“Donovan is an accomplished quarterback who has been a proven winner in the National Football League,” Shanahan said in a news release. “I have long admired his competitiveness and feel he will be an outstanding addition to the Redskins and our community. He knows our division and the roadmap to success in the NFC East.”
In exchange for McNabb, the Redskins gave up their second-round pick in this month’s draft — the draft’s 37th overall selection — and a fourth-round selection in the 2011 draft. Next year’s pick, though, could turn into a third-rounder, depending on McNabb’s performance this season.
McNabb is expected to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at Redskins Park. A frequent source of trade rumors, McNabb apparently wasn’t aware the Redskins were serious suitors until this weekend. In a brief conversation Sunday night, he said, “Absolutely looking forward to this . . . absolutely. I’m excited about it, no question.”
Since midway through his rookie season in 1999, McNabb was Philadelphia’s dependable starter and one of the league’s most recognizable players. He led the Eagles for more than a decade, taking them to the Super Bowl XXXIX, the same season in which he was named the NFC’s offensive player of the year in 2004. A mobile quarterback and polarizing figure for many Eagles fans, McNabb’s future had been in doubt since the Eagles acquired Michael Vick in 2009 and drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round of the 2007 draft.
“This will be a good situation for Donovan,” Eagles Coach Andy Reid said at a news conference Sunday night in Philadelphia. “And also it’s a good situation for Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins.”
Barring an extension, McNabb is under contract for just one more season. He’s due a $5 million base salary in 2010 and a $6.2 million roster bonus, which is scheduled to be paid in May.
As for Campbell, the Redskins’ first-round draft pick in 2005 and the team’s starting quarterback since 2006, there were no hints Sunday as to what his future might hold. Campbell himself was surprised by the news of the trade.
Campbell is a restricted free agent who was tendered an offer last month by the Redskins. While Washington could consider trade offers, if any teams wish to sign Campbell via free agency, they’d have to part with a first-round draft pick, considered a steep price to pay by many around the league.
Despite votes of confidence from Reid and team President Joe Banner — McNabb was named Philadelphia’s 2010 starter immediately following the 2009 season — the Eagles made clear in the last month that they’d be willing to part ways with McNabb. At that same time, the Redskins were weighing their quarterback options for the 2010 season.
With a new coaching staff in place, the Redskins are expected to implement a new offense this season, so it’s not surprising that they sought out a new signal-caller. It wasn’t immediately certain how McNabb’s arrival might affect the team’s draft plans. Many around the league expected the Redskins to pursue a quarterback in this month’s draft, though they still have holes on their offensive line. By virtue of last season’s dismal 4-12 record, the Redskins hold the draft’s fourth overall pick. The Redskins now hold just one pick in the draft’s first three rounds.
Shanahan has said he intended to personally scout four to five of the top quarterback prospects. They’ve already brought Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Florida’s Tim Tebow to town for in-person visits, and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’s Colt McCoy were both expected to tour Redskins Park this week. At least one league source said Sunday night that the Redskins could still draft a quarterback and use McNabb as a buffer to allow a young quarterback to learn the team’s new system and adjust to the professional level.
As veterans go, there aren’t many with a more impressive résumé than McNabb. A product of Syracuse University, McNabb was the second overall pick in the 1999 draft. In the years that followed, he was a postseason regular and often a thorn in the Redskins’ side, leading the Eagles to four straight division titles (2001-04, five conference championship games (2001-04, ’08) and one Super Bowl appearance.
The 33-year-old quarterback has more than 32,000 career passing yards and 200 touchdowns. He comes to Washington, one of the Eagles’ chief NFC East rivals, as Philadelphia’s career leader in wins, pass attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns.
“Are they a better football team with Donovan? Absolutely,” Reid said. “But again, we’ll be there a couple Sundays with them, and we’ll see.”
Reid was McNabb’s coach for the entirety of the quarterback’s NFL career, their fates in Philadelphia intimately tied together until Sunday night.
“I have nothing but good things to say about Donovan,” he said. “Unfortunately, things like this happen in the National Football League.”
Campbell is similarly realizing the unpredictable nature of the league. Speaking to reporters last month at the NFL’s annual owners meetings, Shanahan declined to name Campbell as his starter, saying the five-year veteran would have to earn the honor in training camp. He clearly had different plans, though.
Campbell had been a cornerstone of the Redskins’ offense for the past five years. Drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft under former coach Joe Gibbs, Campbell started the team’s past 32 games and 52 of their past 56.
But playing behind an offensive line that often struggled and a rotating cast of coaches, Campbell struggled to make the Redskins’ offense more effective. Last season, the Redskins’ offense was ranked No. 22 in the 32-team league, and Campbell was sacked 43 times, more than all but two other quarterbacks.
Statistically, Campbell had posted noticeable improvements since taking over the starting job four seasons ago. He annually improved on his completions, touchdown passes, passing yards and quarterback rating.
But it wasn’t enough to impress the new staff. Shanahan’s first hire in Washington was his son, Kyle, to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator, signaling a renewed commitment to the passing game. Last season, when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Houston, the Texans had the league’s top-ranked passing attack.
Seeking to replicate such results, the Redskins clearly felt a change was in order.