Sizing Up the Rumored Contenders for McNabb

Oakland Raiders Donovan McNabb Trade Rumors Jamarcus Russell

Trade winds are blowing, folks. Looks like the action’s dwindled to a few teams competing for Donovan McNabb. One piece of news comes from sources talking to Tommy Lawlor:

“The latest reports I’m getting are that the Raiders are the frontrunners… The Jaguars remain interested, but it seems as if the Raiders are being more aggressive with their offer.  I don’t have any firm details, but the 8th overall pick in the 2010 draft is being talked about.  Jacksonville may try to come up with a counter-offer, but it doesn’t seem like they want to get into a bidding war.”

Lawlor also says Buffalo was more involved in trade talks yesterday, but that the Bills conversations have died down today.

Mike Florio has a tipster who gives some ridiculous terms of a trade with the Raiders:

“Per the tip — uncorroborated but nevertheless intriguing — McNabb and cornerback Asante Samuel would go to Oakland, and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha would go to Philadelphia.”

I don’t buy that one. Asomugha is better than Samuel, but not by an amount of McNabb. Especially since the cornerbacks are the same age and the Raiders just gave Nnamdi a lot of money. Still, interesting to see outlines of deals emerging. Oakland could be deeper into conversations about getting McNabb than we thought.

Finally, no more reputable a source than the Associated Press reports that “a person familiar with trade discussions involving McNabb” says the Eagles:

“will only consider a deal for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback if it includes a pick among the top 42 in next month’s NFL draft.

That’s a strange number. Until you consider that its just outside the Bills’ second round pick. Maybe the Eagles are trying to signal to the Bills how serious they are about getting at least their 2nd round pick.

Also it means maybe Eagles fans should temper their enthusiasm about getting a high 1st round pick like one from the currently discussed teams. If the Eagles are putting it out there that they want a high 2nd rounder, it may mean that top picks are already off the table.

In any case, let’s take a closer look at the three teams being talked about:

  • Oakland Raiders — Draft Picks: #8 overall, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, two 5ths, two 7ths. Drafting a 1st round quarterback bust is killer in the NFL. Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, and now JaMarcus Russell. You whiff in the first round and it just messes up your team for years. Maybe the Raiders think trading for a proven quarterback is the way to jump start a turnaround. While I disagree with Lawlor’s assessment that McNabb might actually be “open” to starting the season in Black and Silver, Oakland may not care. They had no problem trading their 2011 first round pick to the Patriots for another veteran who didn’t want to be there, Richard Seymour, then slapped the franchise tag on him last month to keep him around for another year.
  • Buffalo Bills — Draft Picks: #9 overall, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, two 6ths, 2 7ths. Another team that’s made some bad decisions on quarterbacks, and now has a new coach in Chan Gailey who doesn’t seem all that intent on grooming someone for awhile in the competitive AFC East — he’s said he wants the position resolved before the draft. The problem is McNabb may not want to go to upstate NY either. Buffalo really doesn’t have much talent — maybe even less than Oakland. And I’m not sure the Bills, unlike the unconventional Raiders, will be as willing to play it year to year with McNabb.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars — Draft Picks: #10 overall, 3rd, 4th, 5th, two 6th. It’s easy to say that after committing to David Garrard two years ago as starting quarterback that Jacksonville must not want anyone else. But Garrard has really stalled the last two seasons, since getting his 6-year, $60 million deal, showing he’s little more than a mediocre passer. Coach Jack Del Rio has expressed concern about Garrard and even the QB himself has acknowledged that he’s competing for the starting job with journeyman back up Luke McCown. If the team is even considering starting McCown, especially knowing it needs desperately to sell tickets, McNabb might be a good place to start.

Besides uncertainty at the quarterback position, there’s one interesting common thread through all three of these teams: each one was bad, but not bad enough to ensure a shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. For example, I don’t think there’s much separating St. Louis and Buffalo. They’re both bad franchises that need to rebuild. The difference — which may be why Buffalo’s pursuing McNabb and St. Louis is shooting down rumors — is that the Rams can go out and pick the best quarterback in the NFL draft (presumably Sam Bradford). Buffalo has no shot at Bradford, and a small chance even to get less-liked Jimmy Clausen, who could end up with Mike Shanahan in Washington with the 4th pick.

One thing I still don’t understand is why San Francisco hasn’t been linked to McNabb. Alex Smith really isn’t any better than Brad Gradkowski or David Garrard and the 49ers have a team that overall could be ready to take the next step with a solid quarterback. With two picks in the first round, I’d be clamoring for McNabb if I were Mike Singletary.