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Donovan McNabb: Why the Broncos and Eagles Should Strike a Trade

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IMarch 29, 2010

The golden quip of football is that teams should own the services of a quarterback that is capable of elevating a team from being average and normal to being great and memorable. With that in mind, it's time to reinvigorate the voices of the fans in Denver. It's time to pursue Donovan McNabb once again and finally land the current Eagle in Denver.

Eagles coach Andy Reid recently announced that he is taking offers on any of his team's quarterbacks for further consideration. The most viable candidate for a quarterback trade naturally is Donovan McNabb. He is the guy who will yield the highest return for the Eagles.

Donovan is on the record as stating he wants to stay in Philly, but will be ready to go for next season with whatever team he lands with. If he can’t stay with the Eagles, McNabb has stated he would like to land in Minnesota, where a championship could be within his reach. 

So the Philadelphia Eagles continue shopping his services with their eye on the franchise's future. It is a little mind-boggling that the Denver Broncos have not been more seriously involved as potential suitors for his services. By all indications, the Broncos have had initial discussions with Philly, that for all intents and purposes, have gone nowhere to this point.

So why should this discussion fall under further review? Why should a deal be struck between the Broncos and the Eagles for Donovan McNabb?

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An Eye on the Future

In Philadelphia, Andy Reid's Eagle eye is striving desperately to get his team back into the Super Bowl. It’s not that they can’t get there again with Donovan McNabb, it’s just that he hasn't led them back to the Super Bowl since February 2005. That's been discouraging and frustrating for the Eagles' fans, coaches, and the entire franchise. It’s the toughest position to be in as a franchise, when your talent is good enough to make the biggest stage, but just hasn’t won the big one yet. 

In Philadelphia right now, despite reaching the NFC Championship at the end of the 2008 season, it feels like they are a very long way from their last Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles wound up in Super Bowl XXXIX, and fought hard, but lost late to the New England Patriots 24-21. That game came after four consecutive NFC Championship game appearances for the Eagles.

Now, it’s just a distant memory.

And that is the point in Philadelphia. They want some assurance in moving forward that they are doing the right thing for their team on whatever quarterback(s) they choose to retain. For McNabb’s part, he’s still a very capable leader, which really is not the issue. 

The Eagles do, however, have a capable up-and-coming QB in Kevin Kolb, who will be entering his fourth season with the Eagles out of Houston. He had two starts for the Eagles in 2009, and finished the season with a 64.6 completion percentage and an 88.9 rating in two starts and one relief effort. The point in Kolb’s case is he is ready to go much in the way Aaron Rogers was ready and eventually replaced Brett Favre in Green Bay.

This, however, seems to be a situation that could truly benefit both parties more if Philadelphia does trade McNabb.

Return Value

The Eagles would undoubtedly be in great shape to acquire NFL-proven talent and/or draft picks in exchange for their leader of the last decade. That goes well with their future plans in moving their franchise forward. Most importantly, it’s about return value, and that’s exactly what they would get for McNabb.

Current Front Runners

The team that is most heavy on the hunt right now is the Oakland Raiders. While the Raiders have a log jam of up-and-coming quarterback talent, they don’t have a refined veteran to the level of Donovan McNabb. The Raiders are the only team to date that is willing to waive a contract extension beyond 2010. This means they are willing to give up top compensation to get McNabb in house now, with little assurance that he would stick around past one year.

Minnesota has some interest, and some Viking players have voiced they would rather have McNabb than Brett Favre, because of Donovan's potential long-term viability with that franchise. The challenge in Minnesota, however, is to find the right trade equity, all this without disrupting how far the Vikings came in one season under Brett Favre. At this point, the Vikings want Favre back, but have to be ready to shift gears fast.

Other teams like St. Louis, Arizona, Buffalo, and San Francisco all have strong interest and need a solid quarterback. Both Arizona and San Francisco are logical fits on the McNabb front, so they do present distinct advantages over the other two.

Teams like Seattle, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Denver have been rumored to have cooled in their interest or were not in the mix for McNabb’s services.

So Why McNabb, Why Denver?

As recently as yesterday’s Denver Post, Josh McDaniels was quoted in an article by Mike Kliss and contributed by Lindsay H. Jones. The young Broncos head coach and key personnel decision-maker had this much to say about where he is professionally.

“When you’re in your second year, you’re making better-educated decisions that are going to narrow in on improving the team in areas you know you have to improve.”

For the Broncos, the fans, and the franchise, this is where the rubber should meet the road.

McNabb is the right guy for the Denver Broncos, whether he knows it or not. 

Whether the Denver Broncos head coach and franchise know it or not, McNabb is the guy they should be pursuing.

It’s time to view McNabb plainly regarding his abilities. It’s possible to just compare last year’s stats versus Kyle Orton, it may be mildly surprising with regard to some of the results.

In passing efficiency, McNabb finished 20th in the NFL with a 60.3 rating, just behind Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, and Jay Cutler, who were tied for 17th at 60.5.  So where was Kyle Orton?  He finished 14th with a 62.1 efficiency. 

In passer rating, McNabb finished 12th at 92.9 and Kyle Orton 14th at 86.8, a significant six-point differential.

In total completions over 20 yards McNabb was ninth with 55, only nine off the pace of Phillip Rivers at 64. In throws over 40 yards, McNabb was tied with Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo, with 17 of those completions. Kyle Orton was 11th in balls over 40, with nine completions and 14th in balls over 20, a full 21 behind division rival and leader Phillip Rivers.

What these statistics indicate is McNabb has strength the Broncos need and are lacking at this point in time. The Broncos need a quarterback who can take the reins and help Josh McDaniels refine his offensive scheme. A trade for his talent would make the Broncos more than just a playoff contender, especially if they work on opening up the playbook. 

The Return on Investment (ROI) Is Immediate

Denver needs a leader in the locker room at the quarterback position. The Broncos are largely a veteran team, but they need a stronger fit at the quarterback position.

With some of his former Eagles teammates in Denver (Brian Dawkins, Correll Buckhalter) and a fanbase that would love to see him up close and personal in Broncos colors (the real colors of brotherly love), a trade is a virtual no-brainer. 

For a cash-strapped franchise, this is the guy you want to reinvigorate the fanbase and put them in the seats and actually sell quarterback jerseys again in Denver. The Broncos have a revamped defense that was staunch for much of last season.

It’s that simple, and it actually helps the Broncos to clarify their needs in this years draft, so they could afford to lose a pick or two and focus on must haves.

Is it the easiest fit?  Not entirely, not at all.

It will take a lot of hard work on both sides to make it work. McNabb comes from a different offensive system, one that could plug into this system, but is essentially a different language with similar concepts.

So, he is the guy the Broncos need as a current leader. The Broncos could retain or trade Kyle Orton, more than likely he’s better in Denver than elsewhere as the backup.  That gives Brady Quinn time to develop as the third stringer this season, and Tom Brandstater could remain with the team on the practice squad. 

This time next season, if Donovan comes to Denver, he would find it’s the best place for him (assuming he and coach McDaniels make the appropriate alterations to the offensive scheme). Then, Kyle Orton becomes a free agent and is free to go where he pleases and the Broncos keep Brady Quinn and Tom Brandstater (assuming they are growing well within the system).  

At that point, for all intents and purposes, the Broncos have solidified some of their future and turned a weakness into a strength for hopefully years to come.

Furthermore, if the Broncos are able to take away the threat of a reliable deep ball from the Oakland Raiders, they have effectively killed a few birds with one stone.

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