For the past few weeks, I have theorized the Bengal's options at quarterback in the event that Carson Palmer does not return. While one can analyze the draft class and gamble on who is going to be the next big thing, it would be wise to first thoroughly evaluate the already established names in the NFL, which is something I have been guilty of glossing over. Therefore, the focus of this article is on Donovan McNabb.
McNabb signed a five-year, $78 million dollar incentive laden contract extension with the Washington Redskins in November 2010. In 2011, he's due $1.75 million plus large per game incentives. This potential payout is astronomical considering how the Redskins and McNabb floundered last year and would be a hard figure for Mike Shanahan to justify paying out considering how he benched Donovan and made him his third string quarterback. Despite suggestions from Donovan that he's open to staying a Redskin this year, it would not come as a surprise to anyone to see both sides part ways.
Here is where the Cincinnati Bengals come into play. I fully expect the Bengals to take a quarterback in this years draft. It has reached a point of certainty. Whether they take him at No. 4 overall or later on is irrelevant to this line of thinking, as whoever the quarterback chosen is, he will be waiting in the wings for a while to start. What I am suggesting is that Donovan McNabb could provide a temporary "stop-gap" solution to the Bengals misery.
He could provide a bridge for Marvin Lewis to remain competitive while training up a young quarterback. I would be confident that if the Bengals bring in a quarterback this year, Donovan McNabb could not be a better candidate to groom and advise him. As there is arguably no quarterback on the board of Sam Bradford's caliber, this would be a safer and more stable situation for the Bengals going forward.
Donovan still believes in himself to be a starter in this league, and has at least two, possibly three, at a push seasons of competitiveness in him provided he is handed the right situation. He has always played in and is very much accustomed to a West Coast offense. He has the scrambling ability to continue to succeed in one, making Jay Gruden's new look Bengals offense not too much of a stretch.
As well as this, McNabb is familiar with James Urban, who was the quarterback's coach in Philadelphia in 2009, and has recently signed on to be the wide receivers coach in Cincinnati.
It is a move that may not make the fans scream like having "entertainer/icon" Cam Newton start, but one that is much more sensible, with regards to long-term investment in the franchise. The way things look at the moment, the Bengals can choose between throwing a young quarterback to the lions and hoping he comes out all Russell Crowe in Gladiator, or sign a veteran like McNabb to provide a bridge to our next "bell-cow."
Other than that, the Bengals could throw their hat into the market for Kevin Kolb, though if you know the Bengals, then you know they won't be willing to take part in a high priced bidding war for him. If worst comes to worst, they could give Dan LeFevour or Jordan Palmer a shot.
It is following these conclusions that a trade for Donovan McNabb has made sense to me, if only to act as a stop-gap on the road to a new QB.