How Much Can San Francisco 49ers Pay for Passers Like Donovan McNabb?

Ted SillanpaaAnalyst IMarch 29, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 31: Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles passes the ball during the 2010 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 31, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

There's no question that the acquisition of Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb would represent an incredible upgrade over Alex Smith, David Carr, and Nate Davis.

McNabb's a proven star. He's a household name. Arguing over his on-field value to the 49ers is a pointless exercise. The 49ers would improve greatly with McNabb at quarterback.

There is, however, the question of how much money the 49ers should realistically invest in the quarterback position for the 2010 season.

The 49ers are on the hook to pay Smith roughly $5 million in 2010. Carr signed to play for about $2.1 million next season. Nate Davis is making $460,000. Before the 49ers respond to fans calling for the acquisition of McNabb—they've already got $7.6 million or so invested in 2010 quarterbacks.

McNabb, according to eaglescap.com, will earn $5.1 million salary and bonuses in the final year of his contract in 2010. He becomes a free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

Let's say the 49ers put together the right package and obtain McNabb. The trade isn't going to include Smith or Carr going to Philadelphia, obviously. The Eagles have Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. And, no, the 49ers won't find a taker in trade for Alex Smith.

If the 49ers should trade a high-round draft pick and a player to the Eagles for McNabb, the club would wind up with $12.7 million invested in the quarterback position entering the 2010 season.

Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Joe Staley are three of the club's most important offensive stars. Together, the three will combine to make roughly $12 million in 2010.

Acquiring McNabb would give the 49ers a star quarterback for one season. Then, he'd most assuredly leave for a winner on the East Coast.

If McNabb were to come to San Francisco, the 49ers would have as much money invested in four quarterbacks as they do in the four most important players on the rest of the offensive unit.

Even if the 49ers could find a team to take Smith's contract, they'd be a very young team with many holes to fill trying to obtain a proven veteran in McNabb with just one year left on his contract.

It's unclear how much good McNabb could do for a still rebuilding 49ers team.

McNabb's better than any current 49ers quarterback. The club just couldn't justify paying nearly $13 million for four quarterbacks—especially when the best one would almost certainly only stay in San Francisco for one season.


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