March 5, 2015

It’s Time To Trade McNabb


This will not be a post saying that we would have done any better with Kevin Kolb at the helm against Dallas.

This will not be a post saying that Donovan McNabb has been anything but the best QB in franchise history.

This post will involve no Reid-bashing or McNabb-bashing whatsoever.

What this post will be, is a short, reasonable explanation as to why this is the off-season that we should look to trade McNabb. And this is coming from a long-time McNabb supporter (which I still am). Here goes…

If you watched the last 2 games, and I assume you did, it’s clear to any level of fan, that the areas holding the Eagles back from making a Super Bowl run are plentiful. Our defense lacks a dominant player outside of maybe Trent Cole and is average in many areas. Our offensive line clearly needs Jamaal Jackson, but also clearly needs some continuity across the board. Both our offensive and defensive coordinators need to improve, as they managed to learn nothing from their first meeting with Dallas. No one move is going to fix this team.

Usually when teams are in this situation, their first step isn’t to trade their franchise quarterback. But in the Eagles case, it should be. And it has nothing to do with performance, it’s just smart business.

McNabb has one more year left on his contract, as does Kevin Kolb. If you extend McNabb (and presumably not Kolb), you are doing 3 things:

  • Putting a large sum on money into the quarterback position (money that could be spent elsewhere) when Kolb has shown in his short time on the field that he’s not a huge step down.
  • You are losing your “future” QB in Kolb, and need to draft and develop a new one all over again.
  • You are betting big on a aging QB who is entering the point of his career where his skills might deteriorate.

The other option is to extend Kolb and let McNabb walk after next year, receiving no compensation for a top-10 QB in this league. No thanks.

That leaves us with the 3rd option, the one that will bring the most long-term value to the franchise. Trade McNabb this off-season while his value is still high, and he still has a contract. There are several teams that could be looking for a QB: MIN (if Farve is gone), ARI (if Warner is gone), CAR, SF, DEN, MIA, BUF, SEA, CLE, TAM and STL. You could probably get a 2nd and 3rd/4th round pick (maybe even a 1st if a team is desperate) that you could add to our 11 draft picks we have already. With that many picks, it would possible to package some together and draft 2-3 impact players.

In 2010, you play Kolb with the bevy of young players and expect some growing pains. On the defensive side of the ball, hopefully you’ve drafted a bunch of possible starters and even signed a player or two and we see some improvement.

In 2011, you hope that Kolb will take a step forward, as will the draft picks from the massive 2010 draft. Hopefully Jackson, Maclin, McCoy and Celek are still premiere weapons, and the defense is far more talented. If done right, you have young stars in the making, but on the defensive side of the ball, and far more talent as a whole than if you keep McNabb.

Obviously there are a million things that could wrong in there (like not using the draft picks for impact defensive talent), but from a business perspective the bottom line is this: The long-term value you would receive from trading McNabb this year is greater than the value lost in replacing McNabb with Kolb. It’s not that McNabb is a bad quarterback, it’s that as a team, trading him would likely make us better long-term. If we don’t trade him, we either extend him or lose him for nothing, I don’t think either of those options have more value.

It doesn’t matter what I think, only what Reid does. All I can hope for right now is that whatever he decides, he decides it quickly, so that this doesn’t drag out until the draft or later.

That’s a condensed version of my thinking – what do you guys think? Is it time to trade Donovan?

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  1. travis says:

    I think you put it perfectly.

  2. psv says:

    Great article.
    The offensive side really only needs to figure out what to do about with the Andrews brothers AND hopefully avoid injuries. Too much faith was placed in Shawn Andrews much to the detriment of the O-line, but really, that was the worst of it.
    The Eagles defense has been mediocre at best and porous at worst since 2008 and we need to fill the gaping holes with draft picks and free agents. You can’t really pin this on McDermott – he isn’t the GM and he was using second day picks in places that they don’t belong.
    McNabb is best commodity the Eagles have that can be moved.

  3. Richie says:

    Well put Pete…well put! This is the difference between a well run organization with the future and fan base in mind (Phillies) and a thick headed, egotistical, money hungry franchise (eagles). Amaro does what it takes to keep his team in the hunt while also considering the future and staying within a budget. Reid and friends do not. This is why I pour my heart and soul to the Phillies and can not be a die hard fan of the eagles. I just root quietly on sunday in front of my television. Here is to a change of scenery at the QB spot and drafting a damn safety that can tackle a little bit (taylor mays continues to drop on the big board!)

  4. Chris McC says:

    I agree, I’ve always been a McNabb fan.  He’s still one of the best QB’s in the league.  But the math works out on this.  I tend to think we may even get a little more for him.  I see three picks as being reasonable.  A 1st and a third, or a 2nd, 3rd and then maybe a 5th.  If he goes somewhere warm (or domed), with the right organization and coach McNabb should have at least three years left.  I’m sure Childress would take McNabb over Tavaris Jackson any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
    I’d be a little apprehensive about Kolb, but I liked what I saw earlier this season.  It would be a very young offense (Kolb, Celek, Jackson, McCoy, Maclin) but I see that as exciting with the kind of talent on that list.
    And I like the point Richie made, WWRD: What would Reuben Do?  It sure is nice to be able to look at the Phillies as a model franchise.

  5. Ken Bland says:

    All I can say is that I hope such a decision was made, or is based on before the last 2 games.  More objective that way.

    Granted, the 2 playoff (type) games are part of the equation, but the last 2 games would inspire an emotional decision based on a quarterback who may have had an inadequate pass protection, but I guarantee you, without a shadow of a doubt that the elite quarterback types (fill in your own names) would not have thrown the inaccurate passes that McNabb did.

    Fact is, the Eagles, who played a relatively weak schedule, did set all kinds of high standards, averaging nearly 30 points a game.   If you look at your organizational structure based on that, and it still makes sense to change the quarterback, let’s get it on.  I don’t know that we’re looking at Aaron Rodgers replacing Bret Favre here, but if AR believed in Kolb enough to draft him when he did, based on AR’s excellent judge of talent skills, its time to do it.  I just hope its an objective decision.

    So many people say McNabb is the greatest quarterback in Eagle history.  People far more knowledgable about football than me.  I wonder if they forget, or ever knew of Norm Van Brocklin’s work, and if its really that decisive over Randall Cunningham.  I’m not disagreeing, I really don’t know.  I never saw Van Brocklin, and I really liked Cunningham.  I liked McNabb, too, but he gets on my nerves at times.  I’ve grown tired of him to an extent the last couple years.

    Even though the Pro Football Hall of Fame seems to have lesser standards than baseball, I think the last 2 games have taken McNabb off the borderline Hall of Famer level.  His numbers, even without a Super Bowl may total out as impressive enough, but he couldn’t get it done against New England or Arizona on the 1 drive he needed to, and that coupled with this is the mark of a good-good plus quarterback.  That is not good enough. 

  6. RRose says:

    Be careful what you ask for.  Finding a franchise QB can set an organization back years.  Its never easy to do and is this city willing to wait around for a young QB to develop and prosper in this city.  D Mac to me has never gotten the credit he deserves and will be seriously missed if the wheels fall off.  Look at all the teams around the league looking for a #1 qb.  It could get ugly here real quick.  I say give D Mac one more year and one more year of grooming for Kolb and the young players on this team.  That would make Kolb and the transition much more smooth.

  7. tk76 says:

    I am neither down on the Eagles as a franchise nor McNabb.  It’s a shame the team has failed to win a SB, but people are completely blind if they do not see the strengths of this organization or the success that McNabb/Reid have enjoyed.  Maybe people forget the 90′s?
    Overall I agree with Pete’s assessment.  I actually would have traded away McNabb last year.  But it is a tough and risky proposition coming off an 11 win season- even an empty one.  I have confidence that the Eagles will remain a strong team for the long term, but if Kolb fell on his face (Hoying?) then they would be wasting 1-2 years where they should be a playoff team.  So I guess it depends more on how they evaluate Kolb, because we know we if a very hood but not elite QB in McNabb who knows the scheme.

  8. tk76 says:

    As for the financial angle, the Eagles always have tons of money to spend on players.  Who knows what happens after the uncapped year, but I doubt 5-10M will keep them from making the moves they want to make.

  9. tk76 says:

    Quick question:
    If you could be a fan of any team, for the decade of 2000-2009, which teams would you have enjoyed rooting for more than the Eagles?  Take into account the players, style, management, coaches, record and ultimate success.
    A choice like the Pats or even Colts is easy.  they won consistently and won a Superbowl.  But what about teams like the Giants who were up and down, had an unpopular coach and unlikable QB but won a SB?
    Can’t imagine it will be a long list.

  10. EVFORCE says:

    I think it’s time to move McNabb. If AR doesn’t think Kolb can replace him, maybe trade McNabb for a high draftpick and go get another QB.

  11. Pete says:

    well, didn’t take long for Reid to say McNabb is the QB in 2010 – not that you would expect him to say otherwise at this point…

  12. Pete says:


    I’d take all the super bowl winners: so that is NE, PIT, IND, BAL, TB, NYG and then put us 7th.

    Those teams were not in order.

  13. EVFORCE says:


  14. Dannie says:

    RRose – The problem with doing that is you would have to commit or not commit to Kolb without knowing whether he can really play or not.  By moving McNabb now and getting to see Kolb for a full season with a talented group of playmakers on offense it makes that decision substantially easier either way.

    I actually have much more to say about the Eagles than normal so I’ll just write a post this week.

  15. Dannie says:

    I only have one team I would take: The Baltimore Ravens.

    I love that team.  I love Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  I love their defense.  I am not a big football fan in general but one of the only teams I enjoy watching besides the Eagles are the Ravens.  Watching them destroy the Patriots by punching them in the mouth countless times and running down their throat was a pleasure for me.  I am rooting hard for them to win the SB again.

    In my perfect world the Eagles look like the Ravens in nearly every way with McNabb as the quarterback not having to carry the full offensive load on his right shoulder.

  16. Sean says:

    No thanks. They need to focus on upgrading the lines on both sides of the ball.  QB is fine, thanks.

  17. tk76 says:

    I agree more with EVFORCE.  I’d take NE, PIT, IND, BAL.

    TB lost too much and the Giants would be too frustrating between Coughlin and Goofy Jr.  Bal would be close.  I love their defensive identity and ring, but they have had a few of really poor seasons.

  18. RRose says:

    @Dannie that’s why I think going to Kolb or any drafted rookie on a team coming off such a disappointing end to their season would be riskier than normal.  Coming off a 8-8 type season, no playoffs and total collapse then I can see D Mac going.  Just think Aaron Rodgers he was a 6-10 qb his first season showing much promise.  But are people ready for a 6-10 type year coming off a 11-5 playoff season?  They can always franchise Kolb after this season if they think he is the qb of the future. 

  19. Dannie says:

    Why are you worried about “people?”  The franchise isn’t going to make a move that is best for the long-term stability of the franchise.  Getting no value for McNabb (and Vick if he isn’t a long-term option) would set the franchise back.

    Second, I do not at all like the Aaron Rodger comparison.  I don’t at all think Kolb is that caliber player.

    I am not a Kolb supporter at all and don’t think he is a long-term option at quarterback.

  20. Ken Bland says:

    Reading the last dozen posts since I did one earlier, I am left with the following questions…

    I’m wondering why TK76 would call Eli Manning unlikable.  I can think of far more unlikable.  Maybe inconsistent would kill the question.

    I’m wondering why RRose thinks Kolb needs more time to groom.   Hasn’t it been long enough?

    And Dannie saying Kolb isn’t the long term answer.  Why not?

    Regarding Pete’s list of teams looking for number 1′s, I thought about this.  Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but Vick, at 5.6 mil is about as likely to be back on his option as TO was to see year 3 of his contract.  So he’s a free agent.  Of those teams that need QBs, I wonder if they’d rather have McNabb or Vick.  Vick appears to have done a commendable job of getting back in the flow of life, and I would think he’ll see greater interest than he did last year. 

  21. Pete says:

    KB -

    I’ve disliked Eli ever since his “DAAAAADDDYYYYY, I don’t WANNNNNNNAAAAA go SANNN DIIEEEGOOO” draft day. He felt that the accomplishments of his father and brother meant he deserved special treatment. Since then, he hasn’t really done anything to increase that dislike, but it’s still there.

  22. Pete says:

    On your other points KB…

    - I don’t think another year behind McNabb would be beneficial to Kolb. He will be 26 by the start of the season.

    - I’m higher on Kolb than Dannie, but I don’t think he’s a QB that is going to be the reason we win a title. I see him as a middle-of-the-pack kind of guy, but I like his accuracy and think he can be a good game manager with the occasional big day.

    - Regarding Vick, everything I’ve read makes it seem like we will be lucky to get anything for him.


  23. Dannie says:

    Why not Kolb?

    I’ll address this is my post but here is a cliff notes version.

    2 reasons:

    1. His overall talent level. I think he is okay but since when did okay QBs start winning championships consistently?
    2. Andy Reid and his propensity to throw the ball to win and overall philosophy of team building. You can win with an average QB if your running game is elite or at least reliable and powerful and your defense is super elite (think Ravens 2000 with Dilfer and Tampa with Johnson).

    Run down the list of Super Bowl winners and look at the status of their QBs.

    I liken it to basketball a bit in that you need to have an elite player (really 2) to win championships in the NBA.  You need an elite QB (with a good team obviously) to win Super Bowls.  And the teams that did it without one are outliers and exceptions to the rule.


  24. Pete says:

    Dannie -

    Of the last 6 QBs to win a SB (Roethlisberger, Brady, Manning, Manning, B. Johnson, T. Dilfer) only 50% are “elite.” And Rothlisberger was not an elite QB by any means in 2005-06.

    Also, if you’re criteria for replacing McNabb is a QB who will “win championships consistently” then you might be waiting awhile.

  25. NY Knicks – Patrick Ewing.   Knicks waited one or two years too long on trading Ewing away, now of course they would have wasted the pick anyway…   But then again  the team has stunk since Ewing left.
    I like McNabb but since Reid isn’t going anywhere and won’t run the ball, I do think we need a change at QB which might force Reid to run the ball.

  26. Ken Bland says:

    Thanks for the Kolb feedback. 

    Another good team to root for the last decade might have been the Panthers.  They’ve made some post season noise, and rooting for Jake D would make you appreciate McNabb at times.  But they’ve had some good runs, and play hard for John Fox.  The excitement of birth to NFC title game (2nd year) was pretty cool, too.  Rooting for a Jeff Fisher coached team would have been okay with the Titans. 

    I can see where people would be pissed at Eli for his avoiding the Chargers.  That never bothered me, so I needed reminding of it.  John Elway pulled that and was thought of as a crybaby for quite a while.  He used the Yankees drafting him as a threat against the Colts.  

    I suspect the list of less than great quarterbacks who won super bowls might be longer than we think.  Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, Doug Williams were all good quarterbacks.  Definitely above guys like Dilfer and Brad Johnson.  But they might all be remembered a little better than they were because they won Super Bowls.  Add Jim McMahon to that list.  He perhaps would have been elite because he was a very accurate passer, but he was so injury prone.  Billy Kilmer might have won 1, and he was a superstar in the grits and determination category only.  I liked Jeff Hostetler, but his entire body of work doesn’t make you think of him as a SB QB.  Teery Bradshaw isn’t remembered as famously without his 4 rings. 

    The great great quartebacks who won is probably a shorter list than the glamour of the accomplishment might have you believe.



  27. Dannie says:

    Pete - Your “6 QBs” is clearly made just to support your point.  We can manipulate the numbers a lot of ways to make our point.  But at the end of they day it’s about Super Bowls won, so count the rings not the total number of QBs.  That’s my point.  And why I made the basketball reference.

    A select few elite players win championships in professional sports.  It’s really polarized in basketball in particular but you see the same trend in all sports.

    Last 10 years:

    • Ben – 2 (Sure Ben may not have been consider elite in 05-06 but he was a second year QB becoming an elite QB.)
    • Brady – 3
    • Good Manning – 1
    • Not as Good Manning – 1
    • Johnson – 1
    • Dilfer – 1
    • Warner – 1

    That looks like 7 of 10 that you could consider elite.  Go back 10 more years and we see the same trend.  The best teams usually win, but those teams are also lead by elite QBs in most cases as well.

    Also, if you’re criteria for replacing McNabb is a QB who will “win championships consistently” then you might be waiting awhile.

    Yup.  Just like the Sixers are waiting for an elite franchise player.  You know I am well aware of that reality.  It’s the nature of the game.  Takes a lot of luck.

    It’s easier in football because you can hide a marginal QB by surrounding him with an elite line, running game and defense, whereas it’s 99.9% mandatory you must have a HOF player in the NBA to win championships.

    But knowing what we know about Andy Reid, how he likes his team to play and what positions he does and doesn’t place high value on I think for the Eagles to get over the hump they are going to need to either change the approach (unlikely) or find away to land an elite QB that is not just capable of making big players but capable of doing it consistently and in most importantly in big games and big spots.

    I am a McNabb supporter but where is game is weakest is in consistency (he is usually really good and really bad not a lot of in between with him) and coming up with a few more winning plays/drives in NFC/Superbowl games.

    I actually believe the Eagles could win a Super Bowl with McNabb if they change their offensive approach (especially as he ages) and put more money into the defense.

  28. Dannie says:

    To be clear, you can certainly win championships without an elite quarterback.  Football there are is so much more to it.  BUT, I do not at all believe you can win a championship without an elite quarterback when your offense depends on the quarterback constantly having to make big plays with the passing game which Andy Reid’s offense does.

  29. Pete says:

    well – why they are waiting for a once-in-a-lifetime QB to fall into their laps, they’ve got to try to be one of the 30% of superbowl winners and do it without one. trading McNabb, in my opinion, in the best way to do that.

  30. Pete says:

    This is interesting (thanks to “Stu” for the heads up)

    From ESPN insider from Schefter:

    Elite Eight free agency woes
    Indianapolis, San Diego and New Orleans have clinched first-round byes, but at a cost. Under the NFL’s new rules, in the uncapped year everyone is expecting, none of the teams in the Elite Eight will be allowed to sign free agents unless they lose a free agent. If a team in the final eight loses a free agent, it will be allowed to sign one of equal value. So as odd as it sounds, a team that loses in the wild-card round might turn out to be better off than a team that loses in the divisional playoff round

  31. stu says:

    Yes, I think a very unreported story is the whole “uncapped year” scenario that is close to becoming a reality.  Nobody really know what to expect accept that there are likely going to be a lot of available vets looking for a job and this whole idea about the top 8 teams (every team still alive) being at a disadvantage is also very intriguing. ..

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on this, but ramifications about the uncapped year will mean that business is not going to operate as usual in the 2010 NFL market as we have seen in the past…

    I expect a Mike Lombardi blog posting soon to iron out some of the details.  A few contracts were signed last year in anticipation of the uncapped year as well (Haynesworth) so owner’s are bracing for this to happen.

  32. stu says:


  33. stu says:

    ESPN rumor mill has something about McNabb’s trade potential.  I don’t usually read too much into that thing, but whatever.

  34. tk76 says:

    The Eagles are in good shape given they have tons of financial flexibility and few restraints.  The team has one of the best positive cash-flows in the league.  Add to that the hidden benefit that Dallas will be hindered by the uncapped year rules.
    From what I read, Washington will likely be the other major competition for FA’s in an uncapped year.  I think had a detailed article a week or two back breaking down each teams resources(cashflow, owners net value etc.)  or was it an article hear?

  35. phillyfan says:

    It is a nobrainer.  I don’t understand why people are worried about in relying on Kolb.  At this stage, he just ins’t much of a step down.  In addiiton, Eagles will sign a verteran QB that may be just as good as McNabb.  Lets indeed be objective.  What is McNabb giving us that we fear we might lose if we trade him?  We don’t get the “veteran” presence.  He isn’t a guy the lockerroom appears to follow.  HE isn’t a great decision-maker during the game.  He isn’t known for his audibles.  He IS known for making “rookie” mistakes like throwing inbounds at the end of a half with no timeouts.  He is not known for rallying teams from behind.  He is not an accurate passer.  He would no longer be any more threat to run than Kolb would be.  He has put up good stats when his weapons have been better (see TO and DJ) and average stats with average personnel.  He has consistently beat bad teams and average teams, and lost to above average and good teams.  So what exactly are we losing? The only thing we are losing is familiarity!  We know he won’t be God-aweful.  But that is no way to win a title.  That is playing not to be 5-11.  This franchise really has no choice but to move on for the primarily business reasons that Pete mentioned.  But they also should not move on fearing the outcome.  McNabb just isn’t that good.

  36. phillyfan says:

    A few other things.

    1. I really hope Shawn Andrews can return to form.  That would solve alot problems.

    2. The need to decide what kind of linbackers they want.  They either need to be fast and cover TE’s, or big and stop the run.  Instead they get these hybrid tweeners and can do neither great.  I would rather they get beefier LB’s that can pressure the line of scrimmage and get quicker at safety to cover the TEs.

    3. Bye bye westbrook.

  37. EVFORCE says:

    They badly need a safety who can hit’em hard like B Dawk.

  38. Ken Bland says:

    It might be time for a new starting quarterback for the Eagles. It certainly is time for a new starting quarterback for the Bills. Donovan McNabb would not be Buffalo’s QB of the future, but he’d be a huge improvement for the present. Even if the Bills select a QB (Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen) with the No. 9 pick in this year’s college draft, McNabb would be a solid starter for now. McNabb, who turned 33 last Nov. 25, has one season left on a two-year, $24.5 million contract. Philadelphia has Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings and might think the time has come to make the QB switch. But the Eagles aren’t going to release McNabb or give him away. Decent QBs are too scarce for that. I have no idea what Philadelphia would want in trade for McNabb, but the Bills shouldn’t waste any time finding out. A third-round pick in 2010, a future low-round pick or two, and a decent veteran might be enough to get him and a reasonable price to pay. — Rochester NY Democrat and Chronicle

    One of Pete Carroll’s first moves with the Seahawks will be trying to acquire Cardinals QB Matt Leinart, his former star college signal caller, according to those familiar with the thinking of the former USC coach.

    Carroll believes that Leinart can be a productive NFL player if given the opportunity. Leinart was under center when the Trojans won the AP national championship in 2003, a BCS title in 2004, and an appearance in the BCS National Championship game in 2005.  In 2004, his junior year at USC, he won the Heisman Trophy.

    As much as Carroll wants to coach Leinart again in Seattle, NFL sources say its unlikely to happen.

    Despite reports Kurt Warner could retire at the end of the postseason, the Cardinals will consider moving on Leinart, who’s fallen out of favor with some in the front office, but not to a division rival.

    Donovan McNabb who lives in Arizona during the off-season, is a possibility for the Cardinals. — Ben Maller, Fox Sports Radio

  39. MRN says:

    I was willing to sacrifice a few years ago when they drafted Kolb.  McNabb’s quaterbacking always irked me.  Here is a good read:–not-McNabb-or-Vick–should-be-2010-starter

  40. Ken Bland says:

    I read your link, MRN.  The one new thing I got out of it was the idea that a bidding war of sorts could develop since there are many clubs looking for a starting QB.

    Via the magic of tape delay, I listened to a couple interviews wth Missanelli this week.  Both opinions expressed that because he is still mobile (Kolb, one said would have been sacked 10 times by Dallas in the more recent game) and would result in at least a first round pick and a little more.  What neither opinion expressed was that McNabb can be as mobile as anyone, but as this link concludes, he is a moderately accurate passer.

    While I agree he’s a moderately accurate passer, and I’d like to see better, there just aren’t a lot of good quarterbacks in the NFL without excellent protection.  It’s not an easy position to play.   For all I know, maybe its wiser to concentrate on building the offensive line, and the running game to take pressure of McNabb (annual occurrence that the latter idea is).  I can’t say it’s not finally time for a change, but I think I’ll be more surprised if McNabb isn’t here for 4 more years than if he is actually traded.

    One other thought on the subject.  I don’t see Vick here next year.  You can’t pay 3.75 mil guaranteed, total 5.6 mil for a backup.  Trading McNabb will mean a new backup, so the Birds would need 2 QBs.


  1. [...] starts with: Will McNabb get traded? I’ve voiced my opinion on this already here. We are already past this step this [...]

  2. [...] advantage of our QB situation: I’ve already stated that I think it’s finally time to trade Donovan while he still has high value. It’s quite simple, there is no point in going into the season [...]