It’s nearly certain that Donovan McNabb will be cut before the start of the season if he’s still in Washington, but the Redskins wouldn’t mind getting something–anything–for the steep investment they made last April.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Vikings are “one of the few teams that have had trade discussions with the Redskins about McNabb.” Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network later added that the parameters for a deal are in place, but there’s still one mountainous, cumbersome object that could stand in the way: McNabb’s contract. Schefter writes that Washington can’t make a trade with Minnesota until the structure of a new contract is worked out.
McNabb’s downfall began shortly after Washington signed him to a five-year deal worth $78 million last October, but only $3.5 million of that money is guaranteed for this year. If McNabb is cut before the season, Washington has no further financial obligation, but that also means that unless they receive the right offer Dan Snyder and his posse have no motivation to release their mistake to the NFL’s QB hungry teams until the end of training camp. This is presumably what’s motivating the Vikings to trade for a player that’s almost assured of his release in the very near future.
However, it’s unclear why the Vikings have chosen McNabb instead of the other potential veteran placeholders on the market. McNabb was reduced to clipboard holding duties last year after he threw 15 interceptions over 13 games. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan felt more comfortable with his high-paid, high-profile acquisition on the sidelines, and with Rex Grossman under center.
The Vikings’ desire to trade for McNabb is similar to the Titans’ motivation to pursue Matt Hasselbeck. Minnesota spent a first round pick and reached for Christian Ponder at No. 12 back in April, and the organization clearly sees him as the future at a position that’s been in flux since the retirement of Brett Favre. Tarvaris Jackson’s expected departure as a free agent has now become official–or at least as official as it can be at this point–leaving only Joe Webb, Brooks Bollinger, and Ponder left on the quarterback depth chart.
Leary of trotting their rookie quarterback out in Week 1 after a locked out offseason, the Vikings need a bridge. The problem is that the bridge they’re currently considering is ready to crumble.
To be effective McNabb–who turns 35 in December–needs to have the ability to scramble and avoid the rush, an ability that’s faded rapidly. He’s now still and stagnant, and doesn’t have the accuracy or arm strength to function solely as a pocket passer. Does that sentence describe another recent Vikings quarterback?
Again, the need for a veteran placeholder or babysitter is clear for Minnesota, but Hasselbeck is the better target.