It all unraveled quickly and in dramatic fashion. After just one season, the Redskins will formally part ways with McNabb, agreeing to a trade Wednesday night that sends the six-time Pro Bowler to the Minnesota Vikings. In return, the Redskins will receive a late-round draft pick next year and, depending on McNabb’s performance in Minnesota, another in 2013.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised or wasn’t shocked,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said of the brief marriage between one of the game’s most high-profile athletes and one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. “I think the whole Redskins Nation was.”
With McNabb’s tenure in Washington reaching a premature conclusion, the Redskins’ quarterback carousel spins once again. Players are due to report for training camp Thursday and the Redskins are on the verge of starting the 2011 season with yet another quarterback — their 17th starter in 13 seasons.
With McNabb headed to Minnesota, his preferred destination since his relationship with Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan deteriorated late last season, the Redskins will likely turn to either John Beck, who hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007, or Rex Grossman, who was unspectacular in three starts last season and hasn't been a regular starter in four years.
Beck has taken on a leadership role during the offseason, and coaches have expressed confidence in his abilities, despite his lack of credentials and game experience.
“He’s just basically been showing tireless effort to be out here and do the work,” said Redskins wide receiver Anthony Armstrong. “He’s flown out here from California time and time again to throw routes. I almost have to ignore his phone calls and text messages because he’s always like: ‘Wanna throw? Wanna throw?’ ”
Said Beck: “I’m just trying to do my job to help this team be the best it can be. Obviously, there are goals that have been set, and a lot has to happen. I’m just trying to do my part.”
If it is Beck, he’d merely be the latest in a long line of hopeful Washington quarterbacks whose tenures all ended early, from the forgettable (Gibran Hamdan and Todd Husak) to the memorable (Jason Campbell, Jeff George and Patrick Ramsey).
While the Redskins have rolled the dice on many accomplished veterans since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, few raised expectations so sharply as McNabb and fewer ignited as many fireworks as when McNabb came up short.
When the Redskins completed the Easter 2010 trade for McNabb with the Philadelphia Eagles, Snyder had cut short a family vacation and rushed back to Washington to meet in person with perhaps his biggest acquisition. He watched from the back of the room as McNabb was introduced to fans last spring.