NFL Trade Rumors: Donovan McNabb a Ticket Back to Success for Arizona Cardinals?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 03:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins against the Philadelphia Eagles on October 3, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 17-12.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

I never thought we'd be at this stage in Donovan McNabb's career. Well, at least not this early.

Everything seemed great a year ago. McNabb was moving to the Washington Redskins, Jason Campbell had evacuated to Oakland, and finally Mike Shanahan was taking over a team headed in the right direction.

Tah-tah Philadelphia and welcome to a new beginning, right?

Think again.

I guess none of us really saw this coming. How could McNabb fail in just a single season? How could he find himself warming the bench after throwing 22 touchdowns the previous year? And how could he be replaced by a guy named Rex Grossman, who had seemingly left all he ever had back in Chicago?

If you have an answer to those questions, please tell me. I'd love to hear it.

If you are wondering what the next step in McNabb's career is, though, that's an answer I can give you.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has done the dirty work for all analysts and speculators. On Wednesday he arranged an undercover workout while the NFL continues to play head games with its players, and among the invitees, McNabb topped the list.

Yep, Fitzgerald is a modern day Che Guevara. (Maybe not)

Of course, it's anyone's guess as to what all of this means. A workout could mean the very least: tossing a ball around the field. Or it could mean a full regime of exercise, the more likely pick considering Baltimore Ravens receiver Todd Heap was also in attendance.

But is this McNabb's next destination... Arizona?

It seems head coach Ken Whisenhunt is comfortable with leaving the door open. The Cardinals haven't chosen a well groomed quarterback in this years draft, even though fans still long for the day when the next Kurt Warner strolls, hangs his hat on the stand, and says "Honey, I'm home".

Sorry, this isn't a bad 1940's movie.

However, the Cardinals will wait. They sat through and grimaced at Derek Anderson's comedy show last season. They seem to have no confidence in Max Hall whatsoever. And after drafting Ryan Williams in the second round, Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower had best by a new pair of Nike's.

Yet that isn't to say backup quarterback John Skelton is moving down the scale either.

"The coaching staff has been honest with me all along," Skelton told "They’ve said, ‘no matter who we bring in, whether it’s through the draft or free agency, we just want you to compete. “I’m sure they’re going to be scrambling hard to find someone in free agency, so whoever it is, I’m just going to get in here and compete."

So, it seems the Cardinals will test the free agency pool. Whether it works, time will tell. But McNabb seems to be a realistic prospect.

McNabb to Arizona means a variety of things. When he's at his best he can challenge any defense, and can easily become that guy he was in 2008 when the Eagles made the NFC Championship Game. When he is down, though, he becomes even worse. He bottoms out, and looks plain bad. That's basically why he is looking for a new home.

So that's what McNabb may possibly hope for in Arizona: a new chance. He would have Larry Fitzgerald to rely on—the Cardinals version of DeSean Jackson. He would also have a solid run game behind him—no offense to...who is the Redskins running back again?

But to me, the most promising aspect of this possibility is McNabb's attitude. He was smiling during the workout. He felt comfortable among some of the NFL's elite. I guess living in Arizona also helps.

It is important that Arizona doesn't become heart broken if things don't pan out, though. Shanahan has made it clear that McNabb could very well sit out the 2011 season. But don't take that to mean the Redskins will allow him to walk away and find solitude elsewhere.

Let's also not forget that there are two bright quarterbacks still on the cards here: Kevin Kolb and Vince Young. Again, a trade would have to be made. Still, head coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to find a quarterback with a deep arm, especially since young receiver Steve Breaston is also progressing.

Yet that very notion could also be McNabb's biggest fault.

Critics say McNabb lacks work ethic. He doesn't always give 110 percent, and with no relationship between himself and the Cardinals coaching staff, you'd be forgiven for thinking this potential situation could never happen.

McNabb also lacks the qualities of most veteran quarterbacks aged 34. He isn't reliable. He definitely isn't a certainty, and above all else, his inconsistencies range from interceptions to mistimed passes in the open field.

That's strike two against his name.

Yet the Cardinals need a quick fix to their problem. They aren't the New York Jets who can wine and dine players until they cave in to a figure so enormous it would make Bill Gates' head twirl. Nor is Arizona ready to take on board an undrafted free agent, and hope for the best.

Maybe crossing their fingers is all the Cardinals have left, though.

"I always believe in a low profile," McNabb stated. "Guys get a chance to work and it’s not something you’re broadcasting all over the place, telling everybody what you doing and who is in town and all of that.

The lockout has turned everything upside down. It's bizarro world right now, nothing makes sense.

But if one thing is clear, Arizona need a quarterback. They need to reach the playoffs again, and in the NFC West, things don't come much easier.

Call me old fashioned, but the veterans get it done. That's why Brett Favre took the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game a year ago, and that's why Peyton Manning wears a five figure ring on his middle finger.

McNabb doesn't have one of those. Yet.

Hey, look at this, neither does Arizona.


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