NFL Speculation: Could These 16 Teams Pursue Donovan McNabb as a Backup?
There has been a lot of talk about where Donovan McNabb will be headed once normal football business can begin. I think there are 16 teams who could be in play for McNabb if he is available.
These teams can be divided into three groups: first (G 1), competition for a starting spot; second (G 2), veteran backup for a veteran; and third (G 3), a veteran backup for a young QB.
At this point in McNabb's career, he is best-suited to be a backup QB. What has made McNabb successful quarterback is his mobility. As he gets older, the mobility begins to diminish.
McNabb can still contribute to an NFL team, however, now it will most likely come from the bench, helping a younger QB develop, or providing a reliable backup for a veteran team.
G 1: Minnesota
Minnesota drafted Christian Ponder to be their QB of the future, but is incredibly young at the position. Patrick Ramsey is the veteran, but has bounced around the league, and is not starter caliber.
Bringing in a player like McNabb with the understanding it will be a competition this year for the starting spot, and a backup role in the future helps the Vikings.
Ponder may be closer to being ready to start in the NFL than Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert, but he would still benefit from some time to become familiar and comfortable in the system.
G 1: Carolina
The Panthers are in a similar situation as Minnesota. They just drafted their future QB in Cam Newton, but Newton by all accounts isn't ready to step in and start from day one.
Bringing McNabb in would give Newton a veteran mobile QB to learn from, and give Newton a year to work on his mechanics.
For McNabb, this would be one last chance to show he is capable of being a starting NFL QB still, before he moves into veteran backup/retirement.
G 1: Arizona
None of the Arizona QB's played well last year, and its a safe bet Arizona is going to be looking at free agency and the trade market to get one.
The Cardinals have a lot of weapons, and a decent defense, they are built more to win now than later, so a veteran with playoff experience makes sense. Playing in Arizona is probably McNabb's best shot at starting more than one year.
Arizona is at the head of the rumor class for Philadelphia's Kelvin Kolb, but if that doesn't work out, McNabb might be a cheaper option.
G 1: Tennessee
Tennessee drafted Jake Locker in the first round; he is a similar quarterback to McNabb. Locker is not as accurate as McNabb, but he was asked to do slightly different things during his college career.
McNabb would be a good role model for Locker to learn behind for a year, and would be an ideal backup (assuming McNabb embraced that role) to counsel the young quarterback.
G 1: Seattle
McNabb would only go to Seattle if the Seahawks decided to let Hasselbeck go. McNabb could be an adequate bridge, but Seattle must find a long-term answer, and McNabb is no longer that type of player.
G 1: Cincinnati
If Carson Palmer decides to stay in Cincinnati, this won't happen. However, if Palmer does indeed force a trade, adding a veteran who can become the bridge between the present and Andy Dalton would be a priority.
I really like Dalton and think he will be a very successful QB, I don't think Cincinnati would go after a QB like McNabb, but it's possible.
G 2: San Diego
G 2: Dallas
G 2: New York Giants
G 2: Green Bay
G 2: New Orleans Saints
G 2: Indianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning seems to never miss a game, and with the additions to the offensive line this year, his chances of avoiding injury will only get better.
However, when McNabb is ready to win a title (albeit on the bench), backing up Manning would be a good bet.
G 3: Miami
The Dolphins have Chad Henne, and yes, an argument could be made for the Dolphins being a part of Group 1. However, I think the Dolphins are willing to suffer through the ups and downs with Henne.
The Dolphins may need to find a long term answer who is not currently on the roster, but McNabb would be at best a two-year gap player.
G 3: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have Joe Flacco and Marc Bulger. There has been some conversation around the league that Bulger might be leaving.
If this is the case, the Ravens could be in the market for a veteran QB. McNabb would be a good fit as an accurate game manager.
G 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Freeman had a much improved second year in Tampa. There is no reason to think Freeman is going to suffer a rash of injuries.
McNabb would be a veteran presence on a young team and could provide some leadership for Freeman.
G 3: Kansas City Chiefs
So, where does McNabb end up? Great question. I think there is a good chance he stays in Washington for another year.
Outside of Washington, I think Cincinnati and Minnesota are the two best fits for McNabb. In Cincinnati, McNabb would replace the departed Carson Palmer and would provide the bridge to the Andy Dalton era.
Minnesota needs a QB for the next season or two while Christian Ponder gets a handle on the NFL. At this point, I'm guessing McNabb gets traded to Minnesota for Joe Webb and a draft pick.