By Jason Reid
Washington Post staff writer
Monday, April 5, 2010; D01
As word of Washington's trade Sunday night for Philadelphia Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb spread quickly throughout the Redskins' organization, the reaction among players was overwhelmingly favorable. So much so, in fact, that the arrival of McNabb should transform Washington's West Coast offense into a much more productive unit, some believe, and raise the entire team's expectation level.
"It puts a face and a leader, an identity, to this offense. That's what this trade does," center Casey Rabach said in a phone interview. "Donovan is a guy who has done a lot of great things in the NFL for a long time, and he's done it in this style of offense also. And for him to be our teammate now, it's definitely a big move for us."
In exchange for the six-time Pro Bowler, the Redskins gave up their second-round pick in this month's draft -- the 37th overall selection -- and either a third- or fourth-round selection in the 2011 draft, depending on McNabb's performance this season, according to a league official with knowledge of the deal. Washington's boldest move under Coach Mike Shanahan brings McNabb, a successful starter since he was a rookie in 1999, to an organization that clearly was no longer committed to quarterback Jason Campbell, whose time with the team apparently could end soon. Contacted at home late Sunday night, Campbell simply said he was "surprised" and declined further comment on the trade and his future with the team.
Although many of Campbell's teammates expressed admiration for his professional conduct during many trying situations in his three-plus seasons as a starter, they praised Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen for their aggressiveness in making a deal that, several said, clearly makes the team better. McNabb, 33, took the Eagles to a Super Bowl and has reached other heights in the league that the Redskins have rarely experienced during owner Daniel Snyder's 11-year tenure, so he will be welcomed.
"He's a proven winner in this league and I'm excited to have him as a part of our football team," top cornerback DeAngelo Hall wrote in a text message to a reporter. "This instantly makes us a contender for a Super Bowl championship."
Frustrated with the West Coast scheme of former head coach Jim Zorn, the Redskins have eagerly embraced Shanahan's program. The Redskins' decision to offer Campbell, a restricted free agent, a first-round contract tender and not a multiyear contract extension, and their apparent strong interest in the top draft-eligible quarterbacks -- Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen among them -- stirred league-wide speculation that the team would make a major move in an attempt to upgrade at the position.
"Obviously, it's very surprising," outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "You're talking about a guy who has been to the big game [Super Bowl XXXIX] and played in a lot of NFC championship games. He's done it for a long period of time, so he can't do anything but make your team better.
"I love Jason Campbell as a person and a player, but the front office wanted to go in a different direction. Who knows what other moves they'll make and where Jason will wind up, hopefully he'll be here, but he'll be successful wherever he is. But we all know what we signed up for being in the NFL."
Regardless of what the Redskins do in the April 22-24 draft, they've succeeded in upgrading at quarterback.
"He's a Hall of Fame quarterback," wide receiver Devin Thomas said. "For one, he's a leader at the position. He has that charisma and he has that playmaker ability with his feet and with his big arm. He has that toughness from playing in the NFC East his whole career. He's everything you want. And for a young receiver such as myself, who's ready to break out, I couldn't dream of a better quarterback.
"Shoot, he's been in this offense his whole career and he's been in the NFC East his whole career. He knows what to expect going against the Giants, Dallas and now even the Eagles, so he brings that. . . . I couldn't imagine anything better happening for our offense."
And apparently for the locker room as well. Whereas Campbell usually preferred to lead by example, at least earlier in his career, McNabb always was among the most vocal leaders in the Eagles' team hierarchy, said new Redskins offensive lineman Artis Hicks, who blocked for McNabb in Philadelphia.
"When you talk about leaders, Donovan is a great leader," Hicks said. "He always did everything that was asked of him as a starting quarterback, and sometimes quarterbacks just have to be vocal. It's the position teams look to for leadership and Donovan understands that.
"I know they [the Eagles] wanted to trade him, and he got a lot of criticism coming out of there at times, but that's just a tough city for quarterbacks. You can go back to the days of Randall Cunningham . . . that's just the way it is. But he's won more than his fair share of games, he's a great competitor and a great leader. I'm excited about this, and I think [Redskins fans] will be, too."