Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid let the rest of the league in on the worst-kept secret of the 2010 offseason—the team is listening to offers for all three of its quarterbacks.
What was left unsaid was which of the team’s three starting-caliber quarterbacks was most likely to be traded.
While Reid was quick to point out the current depth chart has Donovan McNabb starting with Kevin Kolb backing him up and Michael Vick occupying the third spot, it seems clear that if one of them is to be traded, it will be McNabb.
Kolb was drafted to be the team’s quarterback of the future, and there is nothing to suggest the team wants to move him. Vick is entering the final year of his contract, played little in 2009, and would not command much in a trade.
That leaves McNabb as the quarterback most likely to be moved.
The most probable potential suitors for McNabb right now appear to be the St. Louis Rams, the Buffalo Bills, the Oakland Raiders, and the Cleveland Browns. Let’s analyze the current situation for each team and what the fantasy impact would be for acquiring McNabb.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams own the first pick in the draft, and there are indications the team is strongly considering using the pick on University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, provided they are convinced he has recovered from surgery on his throwing shoulder.
The team’s first free agent acquisition was veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley, and they have hinted they will have Bradford in for a visit just prior to the draft. Feeley could begin the season as the team’s starter if Bradford isn’t deemed ready. The visit will allow them to examine the shoulder after his pro day workout this coming Monday.
Reports have indicated the Rams may be willing to part with the first pick in the second round and either safety O.J. Atogwe or defensive tackle Adam Carriker for McNabb.
However, players not under contract cannot be traded, and Atogwe has not signed his one-year tender for $1.2 million and is unlikely to do so because the Rams have to increase their offer to $6.7 million on June 1 or release him. The Eagles' interest in Carriker seems questionable given the team’s depth along the defensive line and recent acquisition of Darryl Tapp.
Also working against McNabb going to St. Louis is that he is entering the final year of his contract, and the rebuilding Rams cannot afford to move a high draft choice unless they agree to an extension prior to a trade.
For what it’s worth, Rams general manager Billy Devaney has steadfastly denied being in trade discussions with the Eagles.
It’s also worth noting that should the Eagles trade McNabb to the Rams, they will increase the likelihood of the division rival Washington Redskins using the fourth pick in the draft on Bradford.
At the moment, the Rams' most explosive wide receiver is Donnie Avery, but his growth stalled in 2009, and it does not appear that he will develop into a true No. 1 receiver. Laurent Robinson and Brandon Gibson figure to vie for the other starting spot, and Danny Amendola has potential as a slot receiver. However, the team lacks a receiving threat at tight end.
There also wouldn’t be much on the way in the draft since acquiring McNabb would free the Rams to take defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Even with Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson in the backfield with him, McNabb’s fantasy prospects for 2010 would take a serious hit with a move to St. Louis. He would likely be nothing more than a high-end backup.
The Bills have major question marks at quarterback with Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm on the depth chart, and they may not be in a position to address them at the draft. The team has the ninth pick in the draft, which is widely regarded as having two quarterbacks worthy of selections in the first round, Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen.
Unfortunately for the Bills, both players could be gone by the time the Bills are on the clock. Washington, Cleveland, and the Seattle Seahawks are all rumored to be interested in taking a quarterback before the Bills pick. The Bills could always attempt to move up, but they would have to pay a steep price to get ahead of the Redskins or perhaps Seattle, who pick sixth.
That is why the Bills are the most logical destination for McNabb, provided he is willing to go there. The Bills generally make at least one notable transaction each offseason (note the Terrell Owens free agent signing last year), and acquiring McNabb would certainly ignite their somewhat disenchanted fanbase.
In Buffalo, McNabb’s fantasy prospects would take a hit with only Lee Evans as a proven threat at wide receiver. However, the team is high on Shawn Nelson as a pass-catching tight end, and wide receiver James Hardy is entering his third year after two disappointing seasons.
The team has solid depth at running back in Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch and would likely use their first pick in the draft on a left tackle. Nonetheless, McNabb would be a fantasy backup in Buffalo.
Raiders owner Al Davis is loathe to admit his mistakes, and acquiring McNabb would be admitting that taking JaMarcus Russell first overall in 2008 was a major misfire. That alone would seem to rule out the Raiders, but Davis is as unpredictable as his teams have been predictably bad over the last few years.
The team received strong play from backups Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye last year, and both players return to challenge Russell for the starting position. The Raiders have many needs, so moving draft picks for an aging quarterback given their current depth chart at the position would seem a questionable move at best.
However, nothing the Raiders do should come as a surprise at this point, so a move to trade for McNabb shouldn’t be ruled out. The Raiders’ second-round pick and a linebacker, where the Raiders do have some quality depth, could net McNabb in a trade.
The Raiders offense was one of the league’s worst in 2009, but it is not a stretch to conclude that was a direct result of poor play at quarterback. The team has a number of young, talented skill position players who could excel with increased production from the quarterback position.
The running back depth chart features a potential thunder and lightning duo in Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. Tight end Zach Miller could have a breakout season with McNabb at quarterback, and there is potential at wide receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey, Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Johnnie Lee Higgins.
With McNabb on board, the team could solidify its offensive line by taking an offensive tackle with the eighth pick in the first round.
The Browns have completely revamped their quarterback depth chart over the last month. Brady Quinn was traded, and Derek Anderson was released to make way for free agent signee Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, acquired in a trade with Seattle.
There have also been rumors that new general manager Mike Holmgren wants to use the fifth pick in the draft on Clausen, assuming Bradford is off the board by them. That seems logical given that neither Delhomme, Wallace, nor third string quarterback Brett Ratliff can be considered the team’s quarterback of the future.
The Browns are loaded with draft picks with all of their own picks except their seventh-round selection, as well two additional third-round picks, three additional fifth-round picks, and an additional sixth-round pick.
Although McNabb may be a solid fit in Cleveland and the Browns have the draft picks to make it happen, the more likely scenario is the Browns taking a quarterback with the fifth pick in the draft or packaging it and additional picks to move up.
The Browns are bereft of talent at the skill positions, so a move to Cleveland would be the worst possible scenario for McNabb’s fantasy prospects in 2010. Even running back Jerome Harrison, widely touted as a breakout candidate next year, is somewhat suspect given his lack of use over his first three years in Cleveland.
If you have McNabb in a dynasty league, look to unload him if he ends up in Cleveland.