At this point, the only person who believes Donovan McNabb is still an "elite level" quarterback may be Donovan McNabb.
Once considered one of the league's premier quarterbacks, McNabb's descent from the top of the league has been swift and ungraceful.
In his two years since departing from his 11-year stint with the Eagles, McNabb has seen both his level-of-play and his reputation sink into decline, with poor performance and open spats with coaches doing equal damage to impressive legacy.
McNabb's dismissal from the Vikings partway through last season and subsequent passing-over by several teams in need of a quarterback seemed to signal the end of his once illustrious career.
McNabb, however, doesn't seem to see it the same way.
He's hired quarterback guru George Whitfield as his personal trainer, supposedly shed 15-20 pounds and gone on a self-promotional spree, espousing to any outlet that will listen that he is still able to be an elite NFL QB.
While McNabb may still hold himself in high regard, the more one evaluates the realities of the situation, the more unlikely it seems that the aging talent will find himself behind center in 2012.
So why are Donovan McNabb's high hopes beginning to look like a pipe dream?
Click further to find out...
While McNabb may be taking every step to prepare himself for re-entry in the NFL in 2012, an attribute beyond his control will make the most impact in determining why he likely won't find himself behind center in 2012.
At 35, McNabb is almost seven years older than the average NFL starting quarterback. He's played 13 seasons in the league, almost all of them as a starting quarterback. When combined with a play-style that was never known to shy away from contact, McNabb's body has surely taken a toll and probably has lost a step or two after his extended break from action.
McNabb insists that he has worked extensively during the offseason to get himself back into NFL shape, but unless that regime included routine dips in the fountain of youth, the biggest knock against him should remain.
While McNabb has pointed to his impressive legacy as proof he's still an "elite" NFL talent, the last reference on his application may hurt his chances in picking up a new job any time soon.
When the Vikings traded for McNabb last summer, they hoped the accomplished veteran would provide another late-career, Brett Favre-type boost to the franchise. Instead, they received six games of lackluster play and a bloated salary paying for McNabb to hold a clipboard until he was released.
Mcnabb's 1-5 record with Minnesota becomes even less impressive when paired with his previous season with the Redskins, giving him a 6-13 record over the past two seasons with only 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
McNabb obviously still feels he's able to play at a high caliber at this point in his career, but his play over the past two seasons should dissuade front offices from taking a fly on the aging former star.
McNabb has said that he has "unfinished business" in the league during his series of self-promoting stump speeches, but when looking at his past resume, it's hard to see what that business could be.
A six-time pro bowler, McNabb's list of career accomplishments and successes is long and impressive, and anymore seasons tacked on at this point is not likely to improve on that list in any significant way.
McNabb's legacy in Philadelphia is already set, passing for 37,276 yards and 234 touchdowns and leading the Eagles to four NFC Championships should leave him as the most accomplished quarterback in team history.
McNabb's "unfinished business" may be referring to his lack of a Super Bowl ring, but the odds of the QB being picked up by a contender in any capacity beyond a backup is unlikely. While the allure of finishing his career with a ring is strong, McNabb's desire to start makes this goal unlikely.
McNabb has stated that his list of potential landing spots is about "32 teams" long, but just how many of those teams will take him remains to be seen.
The elder QB entered the free agent market at a rather poor time for his position, with most teams addressing their holes behind center during the draft and early offseason. The majority of the teams still weak at the slot chose to pass on McNabb already last season, making his pickup even more doubtful.
Add to that his desire to still get paid at least somewhat accordingly to his career trend, and the prospect of picking up McNabb becomes undesirable to a large part of the league.
McNabb obviously still considers himself quite a catch at this point in his career, but once he's begun shopping himself around to management teams, he may find he's not quite the alluring target he used to be.
McNabb's lack of potential suitors can partly be attributed to his very staunch beliefs regarding his current stage of career.
In a series of statements, McNabb has repeatedly addressed his ability to compete at an "elite" level and clearly believes he's still able to be a successful starting quarterback.
However, the previously-addressed shortage of teams actually desiring a 35-year-old starting quarterback with a poor recent track record makes this thinking seem rather delusional.
McNabb could probably land a role as a backup at a number of organizations, his experience being a valuable asset for teams looking to develop a young quarterback, but at this points he seems uninterested in that prospect.
McNabb's "unfinished business" seems to be the driving force behind his desire to come back in 2012, but in a situation in which he'd likely carry a clipboard, it's unclear exactly what business he could finish sitting on the sidelines.
If McNabb could embrace the idea of a safety net/mentor for a team's depth chart, he could find himself at home next season, but if not, it's unlikely that the QB will ever take another snap in the NFL.