Could Trading Donovan McNabb to the Rams Be a Very Bad Idea for Philly?

Lou DiPietroAnalyst IMarch 25, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles wipes his face from the sideline in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Given the fact that I wrote an article weeks ago advocating why it made sense for Donovan McNabb to be the odd man out in Philly’s quarterback conundrum, you might be quite surprised by what I’m about to say.

Trading Donovan McNabb to the Rams makes sense on all internal levels, but could still be a very, very bad idea.

D-Mac to St. Louis is a trade rumor that’s been lingering for a month. This offseason, No. 5 has been linked to the Rams, Broncos, Vikings, a few other teams, and possibly Kim Kardashian by now.

But the speculation of this particular scenario has really heated up in the last 48 hours, ever since it was reported all over Philly that the Rams were either offering, discussing offering, or dreaming about (depending on who you quote) a package that includes their second-round choice (No. 33 overall) and possibly restricted free agent safety O.J. Atogwe in return for McNabb.

Any scenario would need to have certain pieces fall into place, of course. The Rams would obviously like to sign McNabb to a long-term extension before they acquire him, and because Atogwe still hasn’t signed his RFA tender from St. Louis, he would have to do so before they could ship him anywhere.

So far, the mill looks like this: Rams GM Billy Devaney has categorically denied all reports, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Bryan Burwell—whose original article about the rumors “broke” the story—claims he was misquoted and Donovan McNabb has been semi-indifferent, reiterating that he wants to win a Super Bowl and retire in Philly but hopes the situation is resolved soon no matter what the outcome.

But where there’s smoke (and in this case a lot of it), there’s usually fire. Could it be a done deal? Will it be a done deal? We won’t know until it does or doesn’t happen, which could be anywhere from as you read this to Draft Weekend.

If it did happen, it would be great on the surface for both sides.

The Rams are getting a battle-tested franchise QB who they feel still has several good years left. Steve Spagnuolo knows him well—both from his time as an assistant in Philly and his stint as the Giants’ defensive coordinator—and he could be a calming influence on a young receiver corps. Plus, McNabb kind of already knows Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, both of whom are former Eagles.

Yes, they’d be giving up the No. 33 overall pick and possible a Pro Bowl-caliber safety, but they might not be able to afford Atogwe next year anyway, and they’d be free to select Ndamukong Suh at No. 1.

For the Birds, it’s a three-fold advantage. Mainly, they can ascend Kevin Kolb to the starting slot and see what he has over a full season.

If Kolb is great, he gets an extension and is the QB of the future. If he’s average, they can think about drafting another signal caller in 2011. If he stinks, they still have Michael Vick to fill in and can either see what he has left or look to the 2011 draft there too.

But in addition, they gain what is, ostensibly, another first-round pick—and if Atogwe is included too, they fill a huge hole at safety. Even if they couldn’t sign O.J. long-term, he is one hell of a stopgap.

And, because the Eagles’ top two picks would be within ten selections, they may have even more freedom to reach at No. 24 if they feel a player they covet will still be available a couple hours later.

So then, what makes this trade a possible calamity?

Two words: Collateral Damage.

See, McNabb going west solves a lot of problems for a lot of folks—possibly including the Redskins.

If the Rams get McNabb, they won’t need to draft Sam Bradford No. 1 overall. The Lions and Bucs, who both drafted signal callers in the first round last year, won’t need him either.

This means he could fall into Washington’s lap at No. 4.

No one in the nation’s capital seems sold on Jason Campbell. Mike Shanahan hasn’t said much, but it’s painfully clear that he would at the very least entertain the idea of drafting his own QB and starting from scratch.

If a potential franchise quarterback like Bradford simply dropped into his lap, that "entertainment" could become "movement."

Sure, the Rams could take Suh No. 1 anyway and make all of that a moot point, and the Redskins could pass entirely on Bradford. Anything can happen.

But having McNabb would solidify the first option and slightly squelch the second, and if Atogwe were a one-year stopgap who moved on, they’d really have to hit a home run at No. 33 to avoid disaster.

Is even the possibility of all of that worth turning your franchise on end?

Don’t be so sure.