With Andy Reid's announcement this week that the Eagles are entertaining offers for all three of their quarterbacks, the Donovan McNabb trade rumors have returned to red-hot status. Despite adamant denials from the St. Louis Rams organization, the scenario that would have McNabb heading to the city of Clydesdales and the "Gateway to the West" seems increasingly plausible.
One rumor has the Eagles' five-time Pro Bowl quarterback being exchanged for the 33rd pick of the upcoming NFL draft—the first pick of the second round.
There are several indicators that suggest there is validity to this deal getting done. Other potential suitors have been rumored and speculated, but the feasibility meter seems to point directly to the Rams.
The first signal comes from this week's change in posture towards McNabb by Reid, which strongly suggests that the Eagles are leaning towards trading the best quarterback in franchise history and retaining his protégé Kevin Kolb. If the team truly intended to keep McNabb, it's unlikely they would openly admit their willingness to trade him.
This indicator seems to be further validated by the Eagles recent player purge and lack of interest in signing any accomplished free agents on the market. These actions suggest the team is in more of a rebuilding mode than trying to make a run at a championship.
By the process of elimination, other teams seeking the services of a new starting quarterback can either be ruled out or minimized in terms of probability. This primarily derives from other recent activity by those teams, the total void of speculation involving those clubs, and/or McNabb's willingness to accept a trade to that particular destination.
To that end, it would not seem that any amount of money would be enough to lure McNabb to accept a trade to the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders organization. It is also very questionable whether he would accept a trade to teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, or Cleveland Browns.
That being said, McNabb would be a major upgrade for all of those clubs and the Cardinals are just one year removed from narrowly missing a Super Bowl championship.
The Washington Redskins could clearly use a quarterback of McNabb's ilk; however, it would seem very doubtful that the Eagles would want to compete with their former leader head-to-head in the NFC East.
A dark horse team that has not been mentioned in rumors is the Carolina Panthers. Their recent release of Jake Delhomme officially handed the starting role to young Matt Moore, who finished the season with a few solid performances.
The Panthers, though, have the ingredients to make a Super Bowl run with a top-notch quarterback such as McNabb. The factor working against such a move is that the team would have to gulp hard to pay McNabb along with the balance of Delhomme's contract, so opting for Moore to catch lightning in a bottle might be their financial MO.
A few other teams that could benefit from the addition of McNabb include the San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears. None of them have hinted having any interest, and the Bears are already heavily invested in Jay Cutler.
At first glance the Rams' 1-15 record last season would seem to make that an undesirable destination for McNabb, but the connection with former Eagles coaches Steve Spagnuolo and Pat Shurmur could be the difference. From the team's perspective, a trade for a young quarterback such as Kolb would seem to make much more sense than to add a veteran in the home stretch of his career.
Earlier in the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings appeared to be a likely trade partner for McNabb's services, especially considering the presence of head coach Brad Childress and a championship caliber team. Recent statements by Childress and others around the NFL tend to strongly signal that Brett Favre will return to the team for the upcoming season.
Similarly, the retirement of Kurt Warner seemed to make Arizona a perfect fit, particularly since McNabb has a second home in the area. The view has changed, though, as the Cardinals allowed key players to leave, voiced their backing of Matt Leinart, and traded for Derek Anderson.
The more the tea leaves are exposed, the more it appears the Eagles will have Kolb behind center next year, with McNabb wearing a different uniform. Those same tea leaves also appear to have the likeness of Ram's horns amongst them.
The Eagles' actions, inactions, and words make it increasingly clear they plan to move McNabb. If the deal does not occur with St. Louis, expect things to evolve with another team.
Taking a step back to see the forest for the trees, it begs to ask the question whether a second round pick is adequate compensation to suffer through a potentially dismal 2010 season and beyond?
Many Eagles fans as well as Philadelphia sportswriters and sports radio talking heads have bought into the irrational exuberance about Kolb's potential. If a McNabb trade does become fait accompli, it would be great if Kolb becomes the next Aaron Rodgers—but the reality is that such a scenario is highly unlikely. And that does not even address whether he could win the ever elusive "big one."
If the Rams deal goes down, the afterglow of an extra second-round pick in this year's draft will surely fade when the Eagles are playing out the string of meaningless games next season. Then the offseason talk can shift to what the team needs to get back in the playoff hunt in 2011...