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McNabb, Redskins work on a future together, while Campbell remains uncertain

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; D01

As the Redskins embark on contract negotiations to lock quarterback Donovan McNabb into a long-term deal, they apparently haven't ruled out the possibility of Jason Campbell returning for one more season. Still, the acquisition of McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles likely signaled the end of Campbell's run as a Redskin.

The team will permit Campbell's agent, Joel Segal, to pursue trade possibilities that might benefit the quarterback and the Redskins, according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke on condition they not be identified by name.

McNabb arrived in Washington Monday afternoon and is expected to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at Redskins Park. Already, the six-time Pro Bowler is prepared to begin discussions with his new employer on a contract extension that could keep him in a Redskins' jersey for several more years. McNabb's agent, Fletcher N. Smith III, said he was both "hopeful" and "optimistic" the two sides could come to an agreement on a contract extension soon.

McNabb, 33 years old and an 11-year veteran, has a deal that's set to expire at the end of the 2010 season.

"Usually when you have a trade of this magnitude, teams want to get an extension done because of the commitment they've made to acquire the player. The trade was just consummated, and my first goal was to make sure the trade happened, so that's where my focus has been," Smith said. "Donovan's desire was to play for the Washington Redskins, that's happened, and he's very happy it happened. The next step would be to see about that [extension], so we'll see."

McNabb's publicist, Rich Burg, said McNabb is calling his arrival in Washington a "rebirth," a characterization that seems to extend beyond just the quarterback, as the Redskins instantly have expedited their reconstruction process.

Coach Mike Shanahan is expected to address the team's future at Tuesday's news conference and the uncertainty that surrounds two of last year's biggest contributors. Not only does Campbell find himself searching for a team in need of a starting quarterback, but defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has received a rather public rebuke.

The Redskins initially offered their high-priced tackle to Philadelphia in exchange for McNabb, according to NFL sources, but the Eagles weren't interested. Just 13 months after signing a $100 million contract, Haynesworth's place in the organization is up in the air, as Shanahan has made no secret of his disappointment that Haynesworth opted to skip the team's offseason conditioning program.

Haynesworth has appeared in 12 games for the Redskins and has already been paid $32 million by the team. He is still owed a guaranteed $8 million over the course of the next two seasons.

Shanahan has said repeatedly that he wants players fully committed to turning around the Redskins' fortunes, which might not be a problem for his new quarterback. McNabb had multiple conversations with Shanahan Sunday night and also spoke with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

"He's ready. He's ready to go," said Smith, his agent. "He's absolutely happy with how things turned out."

As news of the McNabb trade reached Redskins' players Sunday night, many expressed surprise, compassion for Campbell and excitement over the team's future.

"I think Donovan got a lot left in the tank," running back Clinton Portis told ESPN, "and for the Eagles to let him come here, I think that was shocking."

It was never a slam dunk, though. More than a dozen teams inquired about McNabb in the weeks following the 2009 season. The Redskins were among those teams, but they weren't considered a serious contender, according people familiar with the trade talks, at least until last weekend.

Trading within the same division is rare in the NFL, and McNabb was told last month that Washington wasn't an option the Eagles would consider. As quickly as the Raiders emerged as front-runners last week, it became clear McNabb didn't want to go to Oakland and the Eagles began considering other options.

"Donovan has a lot of respect for the other teams involved in the process, and I won't reveal them for many reasons," Smith said. "But when we sat down and reviewed all the opportunities, we believed Washington provided the best one because of the offense [Shanahan] had in Denver, his relationship with John Elway and the Super Bowls. It just made the most sense for Donovan, at this stage of his career, to be with a coach like Mike Shanahan."

Sources familiar with the trade talks say both teams remained skeptical of their respective division rival, and the Redskins didn't emerge as McNabb's likely landing spot until late Saturday, when Washington improved its offer of a second-round draft pick, throwing in a fourth-rounder in 2011 (which could become a third-round selection depending on McNabb's performance).

"In the end, the process could not have played out any better for Donovan," Smith said.

The Redskins' acquisition of McNabb had ramifications across the NFL. No longer sitting by the phone to field trade offers from Washington for the draft's No. 1 pick, the St. Louis Rams' released quarterback Marc Bulger Tuesday, which could clear way for them to draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 draft pick.

Even though Bradford was still expected to meet with Redskins coaches Tuesday at Redskins Park, the team's draft plan was likely affected drastically by Sunday's trade. The Redskins might be inclined to draft a left tackle in the first round now that Shanahan has nabbed a quarterback he thinks suits his offense. A multi-year contract extension for McNabb would also make drafting a quarterback unlikely.

With only four draft picks -- including just one in the first three rounds -- the Redskins could also try to stockpile more picks via further trades. On Sunday night, Campbell instantly became the most likely trade candidate.

McNabb and Campbell have spoken since the trade became official, according to a league source, and Campbell also met Shanahan for lunch Monday to discuss his future.

Campbell, a first-round draft pick in 2005 and the Redskins' starter since 2006, could find interest from teams such as Buffalo, Carolina and Oakland. The Redskins, though, don't have much leverage in negotiations and might not be able to attract better than a fourth-round pick. Campbell is currently a restricted free agent and has a tender offer from the Redskins for one-year and $3.14 million, which he has not signed.

While Campbell weighs his options, McNabb, the Eagles' all-time passing leader in most statistical categories, is expected to begin studying the new offense immediately and could be an offseason regular around Redskins Park before long.

"People don't give Donovan credit for being as smart as he is," said Redskins' lineman Artis Hicks, a former teammate of McNabb's in Philadelphia. "Yeah, Donovan has a big arm, he can run and he's a great athlete, but he's also really smart. You don't have the type of success he's had in this offense unless you can think quickly and make great decisions. Sure, there'll be stuff he has to learn here.

"Some of the terminology will be a little different, but the concepts are all the same. He's done great in this offense for a long time, so it won't take a lot for him to get it all down here. He knows what receivers are supposed to do in [West Coast schemes]; he knows what the line's supposed to do and the running backs. And he definitely knows what the quarterback is supposed to do. Donovan is going to be just fine."

McNabb instantly inherits the same offensive line that allowed Campbell to be sacked more than all but two NFL quarterbacks last season. If the Redskins use the draft to fill its gaping hole at left tackle, perhaps the most likely target will be Oklahoma State's Russell Okung.

Okung left Redskins Park on Monday afternoon after a "fantastic visit," according to his agent, Peter Schaffer,

"He really liked the coaching staff, the entire environment and everything about the organization," he said. "We'll see."

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