Donovan McNabb Benched: 10 Possibilities at Quarterback for the Redskins in 2011

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2010

Donovan McNabb Benched: 10 Possibilities at Quarterback for the Redskins in 2011

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    Donovan McNabb was benched by Mike Shanahan late in Washington's loss to Detroit Sunday, raising questions about his future in Washington.

    After being traded to the Redskins, McNabb made it clear he wanted to sign a long-term extension to finish his career with his new team.

    An offer never came, and based on Sunday's developments the Redskins might already be prepared to move on without McNabb in the offseason.

    The best option might be to build through the draft.

    Barring a collapse down the stretch, Washington isn't likely to have a chance to select strong-armed prospects Andrew Luck or Ryan Mallett in the 2011 draft.

    Free agency appears to be a far more realistic option as the 'Skins look to the future.

    The free-agent crop of quarterbacks in the NFL is fairly impressive, headlined by Peyton Manning and Michael Vick.

    Manning will almost certainly sign a new deal with the Colts, but Vick will be on the market and ready to command a huge contract.

    In addition to those two stars, there are also plenty of reliable veterans on the market.

    Here's a look at 10 NFL free-agent quarterbacks who could make an impact for the Redskins.

Honorable Mention: Brett Favre

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    Don't say it couldn't happen.

    Brett Favre will be lucky to make it through the season, but that doesn't mean he won't try to play again next season.

    With Favre needing a home and Washington needing a quarterback, No. 4 could take his talents East to "compete for a starting job."

    NFL legends fall hard, and Brett Favre certainly is no exception.

No. 10: Bruce Gradkowski

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    A reliable backup throughout his career, Gradkowski has started in Tampa and in Oakland with mixed results.

    He lacks the talent of a starting quarterback and would need a strong supporting cast around him to win on a consistent basis.

    Gradkowski is above-average as a No. 2 option, but isn't a great option as a No. 1.

    Since money is no object for Daniel Snyder, don't expect Gradkowski to be at the top of Washington's list.

No. 9: Matt Moore

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    Matt Moore is on the way out in Carolina, but he should get at least a few more games to show what he can do this season.

    Moore hasn't found consistency in the NFL yet despite being surrounded by a strong running game that should make his life much easier.

    It's beginning to look like he might be best suited as a backup quarterback for the remainder of his career.

No. 8: Dennis Dixon

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    The exact opposite of Bruce Gradkowski, Dixon has all the talent in the world but little experience.

    His brief stint as Ben Roethlisberger's backup for the Steelers offered a showcase of his abilities and lack of polish at quarterback.

    Even though he will be four years into his NFL career next season, Dixon remains somewhat of a project.

    If the Redskins decide to enter rebuilding mode, turning to a young player with terrific potential wouldn't be a horrible move.

No. 7: Seneca Wallace

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    Wallace is more of a backup quarterback, but he has all the skills to be a reliable game-manager in the NFL.

    His mobility helps him avoid sacks, and he has enough arm strength to work the ball to the receivers on the outside.

    Depending on how things shake out in the offseason, Wallace would be a decent fall-back option if the Redskins miss out in free agency.

No. 6: Matt Hasselbeck

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    Hasselbeck's days in the NFL are numbered, but he has shown he still can perform at a high level at times for Seattle this season.

    Like the Redskins, the Seahawks have only one reliable receiver and a bunch of misfits.

    Hasselbeck has the pedigree and the skills to execute Shanahan's offense for at least one more year before calling it quits or moving to a backup role.

No. 5: Shaun Hill

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    Shaun Hill has been labeled as a career backup, but he put up some big numbers as a starter in place of Matthew Stafford before his season came to an end.

    Hill has a live-arm and considerable mobility, skills Shanahan covets in his quarterbacks.

    If Daniel Snyder decides to take his franchise in a new direction and get younger for a change, Hill would be a nice stop-gap option to help ease the transition.

No. 4: Tarvaris Jackson

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    Jackson has plenty of talent, but he has also demonstrated plenty of bad habits during his young NFL career.

    After spending two years in Brett Favre's shadow, he will probably hesitate to stay in Minnesota and look to head elsewhere.

    Washington would be a good fit.

    Shanahan loves mobile quarterbacks, and Jackson is excellent when he gets outside the pocket and throws on the run.

    His inability to make accurate throws might be a problem in the Redskins' short-passing attack.

    Expect Jackson to draw plenty of interest in the offseason.

No. 3: Alex Smith

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    Alex Smith is certainly not a perfect starting quarterback in the NFL.

    Fans of the 49ers know Smith might not have the physical tools that made him a No. 1 pick, but he also hasn't had much help at receiver or continuity in his coaching staff.

    After playing for five different offensive coordinators, Smith will likely head elsewhere in 2011.

    Washington seems like a logical destination.

    The Redskins would be drawn to Smith's mobility, youth and decent potential.

    Don't be surprised if the 'Skins take a long look at Smith in the offseason.

No. 2: Donovan McNabb

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    That's right, aging Donovan McNabb and his bad practice habits would actually be a decent option for the Redskins.

    Washington would be foolish to offer him a lucrative, long-term deal, but McNabb might have to settle for less in the free-agent market.

    At this point, his worth can only really be evaluated one year at a time.

    Daniel Snyder is also more comfortable signing veterans than unproven young players, and he might be happy to extend the olive branch to McNabb for one additional season.

    If Mike Shanahan doesn't like it, too bad.

No. 1: Michael Vick

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    At this point, Washington should be preparing to put on the full-court press and take out the checkbook to land Vick.

    His accuracy appears to have improved after his lengthy sabbatical, and he still has plenty of juice left in those legs.

    Depending on how he finishes the season, Vick should command millions and force NFL organizations to make difficult decisions.

    Vick won't have the weapons around him in Washington like he has in Philadelphia, but money talks.

    Don't be surprised if the Redskins try to pilfer a quarterback from their NFC rivals for a second straight season.

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