Are the Eagles Sending Donovan McNabb a Message?

Lou CappettaAnalyst IIMarch 5, 2009

This time last year, it looked as if the NFC East would be the toughest division in football.

The New York Giants were Super Bowl champions, the Eagles improved by adding Asante Samuel and DeSean Jackson, the Redskins acquired Jason Taylor, and the Dallas Cowboys were being picked by many to be the next Super Bowl winner.

The predictions were correct, as the NFC east was tough. The Giants won the division in impressive fashion, and the rest of the teams in the division were competitive all season, with the Eagles and Cowboys battling for a playoff spot all the way to the final week of the season.

So far this offseason, the NFC East is looking tougher than ever. The Giants bolstered their already stout defense by adding Rocky Bernard and Michael Boly, the Cowboys improved by subtracting Terrell Owens, and the Redskins may have signed the best defensive player in the NFL when they added Albert Haynesworth.

And then, there's the Philadelphia Eagles, who have taken a playoff contending team and turned it into a squad that will be lucky to win six games.

Franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb was thought to want a contract extension. Then McNabb made it known that he wanted to see what moves the Eagles made before he negotiated his extension, because he wanted to make sure the team was going to make an effort to acquire players that would help them win a championship.

One has to wonder if McNabb got the message.

First, the Eagles traded talented cornerback Lito Sheppard to the Jets for a fifth round draft pick in 2009 and a conditional pick in 2010. Then, they let Corell Buckhalter sign with the Denver Broncos.

Finally, and shockingly, the Eagles let Brian Dawkins, the leader of their defense, sign a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos. The Eagles barely made any effort to keep the 36-year-old safety, who has shown he still has plenty of football left in him.

It was assumed by most, that the Eagles may have been clearing some salary space in order to make a play for go-to receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh, since DeSean Jackson proved he wasn't a No. 1 receiver last year. This would appease Donovan McNabb enough to convince him to sign an extension.

Then, Houshmanzadeh signed with the Seattle Seahawks, and it seemed as if the Eagles never made a serious effort to get him.

Now, what happens to McNabb?

It's hard to tell exactly what the Eagles' plans are. With veterans like McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Asante Samuel, and John Runyan, the core of the Eagles seems to be built to win now.

The holes in the team that need to be filled, however, look as if they will be filled with young players in the draft, like a team that's willing to rebuild. It's possible that McNabb could be throwing to a rookie and a second year receiver as his primary targets in 2009.

Whether the Eagles still plan on trying to win now or rebuilding, two things are certain.

One, the Eagles, as of right now, are nowhere near as good a team as last season.

And two, the NFC East isn't getting any easier.

Could Donovan McNabb be the next Eagle flying the Philadelphia coup?