Where Donovan McNabb winds up post-lockout continues to be a matter of debate, and although the Mike and Kyle Shanahan seem to have no use for the 34-year-old, six-time Pro Bowl quarterback, it appears evident that other teams will.
It’s been said repeatedly that the Redskins have basically destroyed McNabb’s trade value by telling anyone who would listen that he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. And yes, McNabb likely will be asked to rework his deal to make him more attractive to some teams.
The Redskins might end up having to settle for less than their original asking price, but it’d be more surprising to see them forced to cut him to avoid paying him that $10 million bonus the first week of the season than it would to see them find a trade partner.
There’s a place for McNabb in the NFL, but it’s not likely that he’ll be at his next destination for a lengthy stay. It’s sounding like the teams that might have interest in him all have one thing in common: They drafted their franchise quarterbacks in April and are looking for a mentor to start ahead of them until the young buck is ready to take over.
Where’s the best fit for McNabb?
Minnesota still would seem to be the most logical answer. People familiar with the situation have long maintained the Vikings have interest. Brad Childress is gone, but Minnesota still sports a West Coast offense very similar to the one McNabb ran in Philadelphia. That might be the easiest transition for No. 5, who would have Christian Ponder picking his brain and watching his movements while trying to learn the NFL.
Carolina has been mentioned because the Panthers don’t have a veteran to groom Cam Newton. Like McNabb, Newton is athletic and has a big arm. Newton is bigger than McNabb, but still could learn a lot from him.
McNabb might not be able to pick where he goes, but the Panthers likely wouldn’t be as attractive as the Vikings. Carolina has a new coach and is very much in the rebuilding stages. Given that McNabb will turn 35 during the season, he’d probably rather go to a team that’s more in a win-now mode. Minnesota faltered last year, but still has enough talent to rebound quickly.
Tennessee also has been mentioned recently as a team that could be a good fit for McNabb. New Titans coach Mike Munchak said this week that the Titans plan to add a veteran quarterback who “can come in and win.” The Titans run a variation of the West Coast offense (the Redskins supposedly do as well, but McNabb took a handful of snaps in it during last year’s OTAs and said, “This ain’t no West Coast offense.”)
But even if the system is rather foreign to McNabb, he is likely motivated to dispel the notion that he’s not smart enough to learn a new one. Again, he’d have to be a mentor. The Titans drafted Jake Locker, whose scouting report sounds very similar to McNabb’s: great athleticism, strong arm (but not the most accurate).
Those three appear to be the favorites to pursue McNabb because he can help them for a year or two before the franchise-QB-in-training takes over. Obviously teams have drafted quarterbacks with the plan of turning the offense over to them quickly, and the veteran keeps playing well, delaying the QB-in-waiting’s debut. But Newton and Locker were both taken in the top 10. They won’t likely be stashed on the bench for long.
This year won’t be ideal for a rookie quarterback, so it would seem a team interested in McNabb would rather acquire him as soon as possible so he can learn their system rather than wait for the Redskins to cut him. And does Shanahan really want to keep McNabb on the roster through training camp so he, the quarterback and his teammates can be asked about his status over and over again?