The speculation on ESPN came as no surprise to me last night. There were just too many inconsistencies the past few weeks about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb's "clear the air" meeting with management.
The majority of fans and media thought that the Eagles franchise signal caller would request a contract extension. Whether the Eagles would honor that request or not has been a hot topic this offseason. The responses to questions the past few weeks have caused a lot of confusion around the Delaware Valley.
-Donovan McNabb still hasn't met with head coach Andy Reid and vice president Joe Banner.
-Joe Banner, "I have no problem meeting with Donovan."
-Donovan McNabb is willing to meet with Eagles management in Indianapolis during the Combine to have their meeting.
-McNabb's agent Fletcher Smith: "A meeting at the combine is bad timing. There's no way to keep it private."
-Andy Reid: "Donovan and I talk all the time. I spend more time with him than my wife. He knows where we stand. There's nothing else to discuss."
After all of this, I'm getting ready to to indulge in a game of GTA IV (that's Grand Theft Auto for you non-gamers). Just when I'm about to turn from ESPN, Sportscenter headlines (well....after the clip of Devin Harris' buzzer beater against the Sixers) that McNabb and Smith met last week with Reid and Banner.
\A leak came from an anonymous source that McNabb is holding off any extension signings until he sees how Banner, Reid and Co. pursue free agents this offseason. While the Eagles and Smith refuse to comment at this time, fans across the region are divided in their opinion on how No. 5 is allegedly handling this.
One side feels it's about time the face of the franchise for the past 10 years has stepped up and demand to be surrounded by improved talent. Another side feels it's too late for McNabb to make these demands. They also feel it's past time to ship his whiny, inaccurate you know what out of town.
I'm going to say this is the perfect time for McNabb to step up and make these demands. He has the most leverage he's ever had in his tenure here. Here's four reasons why.....
1. Recent Success
Forget the 9-6-1 season that included the first healthy benching of McNabb. McNabb finished the regular season on fire and broke personal passing records in the process. After going 4-1 in the last five games, McNabb led the Eagles to two postseason wins on the road. Every year since the 2001 season, when No. 5 is healthy for the postseason the Eagles reach the conference championship. No other active quarterback can say that and while McNabb has yet to get his ring, he's proved that he's the Eagles best chance to accomplish that feat.
2008 is the first season since the 2004 Super Bowl attempt that Donovan has played in all 16 games and didn't miss extensive time due to injury. 2008 is also the first season since 2004 the Eagles have gone this far. The reason the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007's second round was because they were unsure how long McNabb could be counted on due to season-ending injuries in 2005 and 2006. McNabb was healthy and mobile the entire year and reminded us how dangerous he can be at full strength. While the sport of football has a 100 percent injury rate, the star QB has regained confidence in himself and this franchise that he can last for the long haul.
3. Contract Status
Players usually start voicing their opinions about contract extensions/pay raises the last two years of their current one like McNabb is now. The last time McNabb was healthy and in need of offensive weapons to help him, he signed the huge contract he is currently under. The front office still answered his call in 2004 and brought in the infamous Terrell Owens and we all know how that season turned out. This is not just about an extension, the majority of McNabb's pro-rated bonus has been paid off. If he can't get on the same page with the front office, the Eagles won't suffer a huge cap hit for getting rid of him. That makes it easier for them to trade him as opposed to the previous five years.
4. Do or Die!!
Remember that quote by Hugh Douglas earlier this decade? Well that's where this franchise stands today. After five NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl loss, anything less than a parade with the Vince Lombardi Trophy is a failure. No more "I feel we can compete with the guys we have (cough)," "I take full responsibility for not putting guys in position to make plays (cough)." The Eagles will be approximately $35 million under the cap on Friday. While the majority of the top upcoming free agents have been franchised or re-signed, there are still quite a few players who would improve this squad if they came here.
They have two first round picks and a total of 10 picks in the 2009 draft. They have plenty of trade bait to acquire missing pieces and/or better draft picks. Point blank, the front office has run out of excuses as to why they can't acquire pieces to the puzzle. They need to stop talking about "Pedal to the metal" and make moves to show they are doing it. The fans feel this way, the media feels this way, but more importantly, McNabb is feeling this way.
He's 32 years old and as the quarterback, the weight of this team's success falls on his shoulders. If Reid and Banner aren't willing to address these needs and bring in the players of the caliber needed to help McNabb succeed, McNabb deserves a chance to win elsewhere.
Overall, McNabb showed he can stay healthy and productive throughout the full course of a season. While he's not perfect, he knows he's the Eagles best chance at glory. Kolb certainly hasn't shown he's ready to take over in Philadelphia. While the opinions of this alledged "force of the hand" may differ, it will bring out the fact of whether or not the powers that be of this organization are truly serious about winning.