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Redskins sign Donovan McNabb to a five-year, $78 million contract extension

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 1:04 AM

The Redskins gave Donovan McNabb a contract extension on Monday that could allow the veteran quarterback to retire as a member of the team, putting an end, for now, to questions about his future in Washington just two weeks after he was benched by Coach Mike Shanahan.

Amid speculation and news reports over the past two weeks that Shanahan was unhappy with McNabb, the team announced the news 31/2 hours before the start of Monday night's game against McNabb's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, which the Redskins lost in spectacular fashion, 59-28.

"This is what Donovan wanted: to have a long career in Washington and end his career here. That never changed," said McNabb's agent, Fletcher N. Smith III. "And the fact that we could get this done tonight, with the Redskins playing the Eagles on Monday night and everything that goes with that - I couldn't have written a better script."

Neither Smith nor team officials would discuss terms of the deal. According to a league source, though, the extension is for five years and is worth $78 million. Initial reports indicated that $40 million would be guaranteed.

If McNabb plays out the whole contract, he would be a Redskin through the 2015 season. The 12-year veteran turns 34 on Nov. 25 and would be 39 years old at the conclusion of the deal.

While it took the two sides more than eight months to agree to terms, Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said team officials never wavered in their commitment to signing McNabb to a deal that would keep him in Washington.

"It's really something that we've known we're going to do for some time," Allen said during a pregame appearance ESPN 980, which is owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

The team didn't make Allen or Snyder available to reporters.

McNabb was hardly in a mood to celebrate his contract extension following Monday's big loss.

"That really wasn't the focus coming into this game," said a despondent McNabb, who finished 17-of-31 passing for 295 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

After such a lopsided loss, he said it was difficult to think about anything other than his team's subpar performance.

"My focus is just on the game," he said. "I guess that's one question that I don't have to answer any more. But this game is just - I'm embarrassed."

Shanahan was pleased with the deal.

"We talked about it from Day One, I think we shared this once we [acquired] him," he said after the loss. "We were in conversations to get this thing done early. When we first made a commitment, there's been ongoing talks. You hope to get it done by the bye week and we did."

The timing of the deal, though surprised many across the league. Since Shanahan replaced McNabb with Rex Grossman with 1 minute 50 seconds to go in the Oct. 31 game against the Lions, NFL analysts have been busy dissecting the relationship between McNabb and the organization.

Though both sides have maintained since the Easter trade that brought McNabb to Washington that an extension was coming, the quarterback's benching cast some doubt on those prospects. Shanahan said after the Detroit game that Grossman was better prepared to run the two-minute offense. McNabb's current deal was set to expire at the conclusion of this season.

But the benching actually might have helped spur discussions and push the two sides closer to an agreement.

"I'd say it probably helped to some degree. . . . The Redskins definitely seemed motivated to show that they were behind Donovan despite what happened," Smith said.

Smith said Allen called shortly after the benching to check on McNabb and reaffirm the team's hopes for a long-term relationship with the six-time Pro Bowler. The agent called the benching "a small blip on the radar."

"I asked him if he wanted to be here. He said he loved it here, loves his teammates, loves the city and the way the fans have embraced him," Smith said, "and the organization as well."

The two sides were still far apart last month on McNabb's guaranteed money and the average he would be paid per year, but they talked throughout the bye week. Eric Schaffer, the Redskins' vice president of football administration, handled the bulk of negotiations for the team.

"I'm not going to get into specifics of our discussions, but the Redskins made it clear to us [after the benching] that they were definitely behind Donovan and want him to be in Washington," Smith said.

Smith said that Shanahan did not participate in negotiations. He said the framework for the deal was agreed upon during the bye week and final details were hammered out last weekend. If the two sides couldn't have reached terms, Smith said they would have waited until after the season to resume negotiations.

If $40 million of the money is guaranteed, McNabb is assured an average of $8 million per season, well below the extension that New England's Tom Brady signed in September, which pays the Patriots quarterback an average of $11.25 million per season.

McNabb is due a $5 million base salary this season and a $6.2 million roster bonus.

Regardless of the numbers, Smith said getting the deal is a relief for McNabb.

"Now he doesn't have to focus or concentrate on what next year will bring," Smith said. "He knows he's going to be a Redskin and now he can just focus on throwing the football."

McNabb reiterated that after the game.

"Contract is great. I've always said I've always wanted to be here. I look forward to being here for years," McNabb said. "There's nothing I can do later right now. I can only focus on the present time. At this time, I'm just looking forward to watching this film and moving on."

Halfway through the Redskins' 16-game schedule, McNabb entered Monday night's game as the NFL's 28th-ranked passer with a 76.0 quarterback rating. He was averaging 246.4 yards per game (No. 13 in the NFL) and had seven touchdowns (tied for No. 26) and eight interceptions (tied for 10th most).

Washington acquired McNabb from the Eagles on April 4 in exchange for a 2010 second-round draft pick (37th overall) and either a third- or fourth-round pick in 2011, based on McNabb's performance.

"When we made the trade for him, we understood what we were getting with Donovan," Allen said Monday. "We're pleased with the leadership that he brings and we believe he can help us win."

maeser@washpost.com reidj@washpost.com

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