When the Washington Redskins traded with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Donovan McNabb for a couple of draft picks, cynics pointed out the deal could basically end up being a one year rental of the former Eagles quarterback.
McNabb, whose contract expires at the end of the season, will most likely not sign any contact extensions until the players and owners resolve their differences on the collective bargaining agreement at seasons end. Most experts think a players strike is inevitable, something NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has echoed.
If the players win the strike, things will become like Major League Baseball. Where the highest bidder secures the services of available players. There is no guarantees the Redskins would win a bidding war to retain the services of their newly acquired quarterback.
This leaves Jason Campbell even more in flux. The 2009 starter, coming off his best season, was informed of the McNabb trade through the media instead of the team. He was a restricted free agent, until recently signing a tendered contract offer to stay with the team.
Rumors are abound that the Redskins will trade Campbell before the NFL Draft to get more draft picks, but this may not be a wise move by the club. Campbell has showed definite improvement in each of his three and a half seasons as the starter, despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the league in front of him much of the time.
If Washington elects to part ways with him, they will be stuck with Rex Grossman and Rick Bartell as McNabb's backups. This may be the worst quarterback depth in the league, where only Grossman has much experience. The last time Grossman was a full time starter was 2006, and the erratic quarterback has never posted a quarterback rating over 74.8.
This is not a good scenario for a team who is relying on McNabb to play all 16 games, something he has done only four times in his eleven seasons. When McNabb is actually healthy enough to play, he is special. He is is the least intercepted quarterback per pass attempt in NFL history, and he has the second-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time. He also has the third-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks.
Based on his history, it is highly unlikely McNabb will play a full season. It is more likely he will get injured and miss time, especially behind an offensive line that was as porous as the Redskins were last season. If newly hired head coach Mike Shanahan is more comfortable with Rex Grossman as his backup over Campbell, then it becomes clearer as to why the Denver Broncos fired him.
The work done thus far by Shanahan and new General Manager Bruce Allen can only be termed as dubious. Moves that will have to play out to see if they are going to pan out. The son of legendary Redskins Hall of Fame coach George Allen, Bruce is trying an almost similar approach that his dad initiated by signing veteran players.
The "Over The Hill Gang" was a group of older players that George Allen was familiar with, having coached them when he was with both the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams. His son is now signing older players, though few have any ties to him.
He has signed such an array of veterans that range from unimpressive to washed up. Players like running backs Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, defensive tackles Anthony Bryant and Maake Kemoeatu, offensive lineman Artis Hicks, tight end Sean Ryan, punter Josh Bidwell, and cornerback Phillip Buchanon.
None are exactly considered top tier talent in the league. Only Buchanon, drafted by Allen in the first round of the 2002 draft when he was general manager of the Oakland Raiders, has any past ties with him.
Perhaps the moniker to dub the group Bruce Allen is assembling might be the "Washed Up Gang"?
If McNabb leaves the team after one season, Washington will be left with Grossman and Bartell if they trade Campbell before the draft. Unless the team drafts a quarterback this year, the future looks bleak in that scenario. It will be questionable if left in the hands of an inexperienced player, if they do draft a quarterback to groom this season.
The smart move would be to hang onto the 28 year old Campbell, in case the soon-to-be 34 year old McNabb goes down with his annual injury or bolts at seasons end. If they re-sign McNabb before the 2011 NFL Draft, Campbell will still hold trade value in a league with so very few good quarterbacks. The long line of teams interested in his services this year will be about as long as next season.
Redskins Nation understands the value of having a good backup quarterback. Not just from the Joe Gibbs Era, where Washington won three Super Bowls over ten years with three different quarterbacks, but from the days when another ex-Eagles quarterback took snaps for the Redskins.
Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen spent the last five years of his brilliant career sharing snaps with Billy Kilmer. The two became fast friends and noted drinking buddies. They learned from each other. If Bruce Allen was not in a coma as a high school student from 1971 to 1974, he noticed this. He also noticed the quarterback duo led the Redskins to his dads only Super Bowl appearance in 1972.
If there was ever a time to steal a page from the old man, this is it. He must keep Jason Campbell a member of the Washington Redskins for the 2010 season. Who knows? Maybe Campbell and McNabb will become fast friends like Sonny and Billy did? The best way to relive the glory days sometimes is to try to emulate them.
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