The Donovan McNabb Sweepstakes

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The Donovan McNabb Sweepstakes
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Unless you’ve been completely sucked into March Madness to the point that you’ve been shut out from the rest of the sports world you’ve heard that the Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly open to offers for any of their three quarterbacks. While there is a minimal market for youngster Kevin Kolb and apparently no market for Michael Vick, there are teams ready to line up if the price is right for Donovan McNabb.

McNabb has been public about his feelings on the issue: if he’s going to be moved, he wants it to happen soon. Reports on Friday are that he has spoken about the matter with Eagles coach Andy Reid, and has expressed a preference to be in Philadelphia, not Oakland or Buffalo. The Eagles are reportedly looking for a draft pick in the first 42 overall selections in the draft.

So where could McNabb land?

Let’s first eliminate the teams that won’t be shopping for a quarterback this spring. The New Orleans Saints just won the Super Bowl, so Drew Brees‘ job is safe.  New England has Tom Brady, so they’re out. Same goes for Indianapolis (Peyton Manning), both New York teams (Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez), Chicago (Jay Cutler), Houston (Matt Schaub), Atlanta (Matt Ryan), Dallas (Tony Romo), San Diego (Philip Rivers), Baltimore (Joe Flacco), Cincinnati (Carson Palmer), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers) and, in theory, Detroit (Matthew Stafford).

There are some teams on the fringe that could be intriguing, but doubtful suitors for McNabb. Cleveland just paid Jake Delhomme a lot of money. Denver traded for Brady Quinn to, cough, backup Kyle Orton. Arizona brought in Derek Anderson to compete with Matt Leinart. The Seattle Seahawks and new head coach Pete Carroll have Matthew Hasselbeck and recently traded for former Chargers backup Charlie Whitehurst, who was subsequently handed a big extension (based on… ?).

So who’s left?

Oakland. McNabb wants nothing to do with them. Ditto Buffalo. So take both of them off the list.

Miami is possible, but they appear to be happy with Chad Henne. I would put them as a doubtful suitor for McNabb.

Carolina needs a quarterback, but they’re paying Delhomme a lot of money to play somewhere else. They might not want to spend the money. The Panthers also don’t fall into the top 42, as they don’t have a selection until the middle of the second round in 2010.

St. Louis is an intriguing play, but they have reportedly targeted Sam Bradford with the first overall pick in the draft. Would they want to commit that much money, even in an uncapped season, to two quarterbacks? And would the top pick of the second round, which could be used to provide depth at other positions on a team needing more talent, be worth trading for a veteran like McNabb? It’s hard to say, but if they’re sold on Bradford I don’t see it happening. Take them off the list.

San Francisco could be a player. They have two picks in the middle of the first round (13 and 17) and have a strong running game and defense. If the Eagles would take just one of those picks, the Niners might be an option.

Washington has a new head coach who loves quarterbacks, Mike Shanahan, but he’s been pretty public about wanting to see Jason Campbell play. The Redskins also added former Bears starter Rex Grossman for depth. While they would have no problem spending the money, moving the #4 overall or the fifth pick in the second round to add another quarterback wouldn’t make a lot of sense… but these are still Daniel Snyder’s Redskins, so let’s not take them out of consideration.

There are two choices that appear to stand above the rest. One for obvious reasons, the other as an extreme sleeper.

The Minnesota Vikings are reportedly McNabb’s first choice if he got to pick somewhere other than Philly to play in 2010. They’re in a holding pattern with Brett Favre (again), but certainly have the weapons to surround McNabb for a Super Bowl run. The wild card for the Vikings is whether or not Brad Childress, or Favre, is ready to pull the plug on another comeback for the ancient warrior this early in the offseason. If Favre tells the Vikings he’s done, they could make a play with the 30th overall selection in the draft.

How, and where, the Eagles deal him could be public relations suicide, which makes moving him to the AFC clearly the preferred course of action; the last thing the Eagles want is McNabb knocking them out of the playoffs. So…

The darkhorse in this is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Would an intrastate move make sense?

The Steelers have a lot on their minds right now with their two-time Super Bowl winning 28-year-old signal caller. Ben Roethlisberger is not making anyone in the Steel City’s life easy with a growing track record of poor decisions off the field, and the legal implications of his problems in Georgia could cloud the 2010 season for a strong team. Pittsburgh has solid weapons all over this offense and will return a good enough defense to go deep into the AFC playoffs, but they can’t do it with Charlie Batch under center.

There have been whispers that the Steelers might want out of their deal with Roethlisberger despite everything he’s done on the field for their organization. Historically, Roethlisberger has had one of the most successful starts to his career of any quarterback in the history of the NFL, but his issues off the field might be too much for the Rooney family to continue dealing with moving forward.

The Steelers have the 18th overall selection in the first round this year, and the 20th pick (52nd overall) in the second round.

Do McNabb’s unquestioned leadership and off-field character, coupled with his established following in the state of Pennsylvania, make him a perfect bandaid for the Roethlisberger problems? And, if Big Ben is bought out, how does that potentially change the free agency dynamic across the landscape of the NFL?

Whether or not McNabb is moved is a huge question the Eagles will have to deal with soon, probably before the draft.

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