Yardbarker Horiz

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Redskins Went The Wrong Way With McNabb

Looks like business as usual in Washington.  The Redskins traded their 2010 2nd round pick (number 37 overall) and either a 3rd or 4th round pick in 2011 to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Donovan McNabb.  It's been a couple days since the news and I still don't understand why the Redskins did it.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand the Redskins need a quarterback.  And I understand McNabb is a great player with a long list of stats as proof.  I completely get it that Mike Shanahan runs a west coast variant similar to Andy Reid.  And if it was that simple then it wouldn't be confusing.

It's just not that simple.

Donovan McNabb has only played 16 games in 4 of his 11 seasons.  McNabb has also played 10 games or less in three seasons.  For the Redskins, this means they must count on Rex Grossman or the incumbant Jason Campbell (who now is asking to be traded) to win games if (or when) McNabb needs to sit.  Jason Campbell got punished last year (the Redskins gave up 22 sacks in 2009) and McNabb cannot take that kind of beating.  These factors eliminate McNabb from being "the answer" at quarterback of the Redskins.  I would fully expect the Redskins to offer McNabb a new, back-loaded contract which gives Washington an easy out if they need to cut McNabb for reasons of health or durability in the next couple years.

So, what price do you pay for a most likely not-quite-full-time quarterback who has already passed that magical age of 30 in the NFL?

Consider there are 53 underclassmen coming out for the draft this year.  A large fraction of those players, something like 40, are expected to be taken in the first three rounds of the 2010 draft (picks before the overall 125th pick or so).  This punch of talent into the top of the draft board makes the talent available in the top of the 2nd round comparable to the bottom of the 1st ound in a "normal" draft.  The talent forces excellent players into the 3rd round this year, making the 3rd round talent similar to a "normal" 2nd round.  In this context, the Redskins gave up late first round talent for McNabb, plus another pick next year (3rd or 4th rounder).

There are other things to consider as well.  Consider the Rams cutting Mark Bulger and practically assuring that the top pick overall will be Sam Bradford. Consider the Lions not needing a quarterback after drafting Matt Stafford last year.  Plus, the Buccaneers obviously covet one of the highly rated defensive linemen.  So the Redskins will most likely be able to select Jimmy Clausen if they so choose (perhaps his visit over the weekend did not go so well).  Not only that, but it's quite possible that the rest of the top five quaterbacks would have been available when the Redskins would have picked in the 2nd round:  Colt McCoy (6'1", 216lbs, Texas), Tim Tebow (6'3", 236, Florida), and Tony Pike (6'6", 223, Cincinnati).

By trading away that second round pick, the Redskins reduce themselves to only have four picks total in the 2010 draft, one of the deepest and most talented drafts in some time.  Not only will their picks be few, their second selection this year will not come until the fourth round (#103 overall).  This being the case, the Redskins have basically set themselves up for only two possiblities at the #4 position of the 2010 draft:  Jimmy Clausen (as the quarterback of the future) or an offensive lineman to protect their investment in Donovan McNabb.  Any other pick means revisiting the quarterback position again in a not-too-distant offseason.

At this point, Buccaneer fans should be getting that eerie feeling in the back of their minds that this seems very . . . familiar.  New Washington Redskings General Manager Bruce Allen spent a great deal of money bringing older quarterbacks to the Buccaneers roster.  Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder also seems to favor buying accomplished talent on the far end of their career.  Perhaps it's a match made in heaven allowing both men to dedicate themselves to a single, focused philosophy.  Perhaps not:  I find it weird that Mike Shanahan simply released a statement (a cookie cutter one at that) about the trade instead of going in front of the media to brag about what he has to work with now.  One can only wonder if Shanahan wanted a young quarterback to mold and was told "No" in favor of the Allen/Snyder craving for older free agents.

In a see-how-it-works learning moment, it has been reported that the Redskins offered last year's high-priced free agent trophy, Albert Haynesworth, as a component in the McNabb trade (which the Eagles did not accept).  Rejecting this line of negotiating was a no-brainer.  You have to wonder if, finally, the Redskins understand there may be chemisty issues when dropping a sky-priced free agent into a locker room.

Consider how Philadephia, who won this trade in my mind, got to this point:  They have a young, up-and-coming quarterback already on the roster in David Kolb, a player they drafted and have developed behind the veteran McNabb.  They have a two defensive tackles they drafted who have five and six seasons of NFL experience on a squad who finished 11th against the run (giving up 198 yards/game in 2009).  These quality draft picks made resisting a questionable trade component (Haynesworth) easy and made a veteran quarterback expendable.  And they could take that 2nd rounder from Washington and turn it into Demarius Thomas (WR, 6'3", 236, Georgia Tech), Bruce Campbell (OT, 6'7", 314, Maryland), or Terrence Cody (DT, 6'4", 349lbs, Alabama).  Or Tim Tebow.  Or Colt McCoy.  You get the picture.

It seems to me that Washington gave up far too much for a short term solution.

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