Eagles coach Andy Reid’s bold trade of Donovan McNabb could easily backfire

Trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins is the biggest gamble ever taken by Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid. Here are five reasons why:

1. McNabb can get quick revenge. Sending McNabb to an NFC East Division rival is a bold decision that could backfire big-time. Imagine the heat Reid will take if McNabb beats the Eagles twice next season or if the Redskins make the playoffs and the Eagles do not.

"That’s what makes this so intriguing," ESPN analyst and former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski said Sunday night. "If Donovan had gone to the Raiders, or Buffalo, or St. Louis, he wouldn’t be in position to hurt the Eagles as badly as he can with the Redskins."

The Eagles still have to deal with the Cowboys and Giants, too, and McNabb gives the Redskins a proven starting quarterback. At age 33, McNabb could make the Eagles pay, not only this year, but for seasons to come.

The glare now falls on Kevin Kolb with Donovan McNabb out of Philly.
The glare now falls on Kevin Kolb with Donovan McNabb out of Philly.

"He’s going to help the Redskins be a better football team," Reid said on a conference call. "Time will tell on the rest of it. I’m pretty confident that this is the right thing to do."

2. Kevin Kolb might not be ready. Kolb, 25, only has two career starts and will face far more pressure now. The city of Philadelphia can be hard on starting quarterbacks. Just ask McNabb, who never totally won over Eagles fans despite leading the team to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.

"I was impressed with Kevin’s accuracy last year, but now it’s time to go out and play," Jaworski said. "No matter how many reps you get in the practice and in preseason, your whole world changes when you become the starter. We’ll see if Kevin can handle it. I’m not even sure if Kevin knows, but we’ll find out soon enough."

Not only does Kolb have a tough act to follow in McNabb, but backup Michael Vick is eager to become a starting quarterback again as well.

"I have a heck of a lot of respect for Michael Vick," Reid said. "He’s back in the swing now. Last year was great for him. We’ll see how Michael does as we go on."

If Kolb struggles in preseason, expect a full-blown quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.

3. The Eagles still have holes on defense. Even if Kolb plays well, the Eagles’ defense must improve for Philadelphia to become a Super Bowl contender. The Eagles dealt McNabb for the No. 37 pick in the 2010 draft plus either a third-round or fourth-round pick in 2011. That gives the Eagles 11 picks in this month’s draft, including five of the first 87 picks. With such ammunition, the Eagles could trade up to select a player they covet.

"You kind of sit there and you analyze — do you move up, do you move back, do you stay there, do you trade into next year?" Reid said. "We do need players on this football team. I’m sure we’ll look into maneuvering."

4. The Eagles are in transition. Suddenly they are one of the NFL’s youngest teams. They have unloaded a host of veteran players during the offseason — McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Shawn Andrews, Sheldon Brown, Kevin Curtis, Chris Clemons, Chris Gocong and Darren Howard to name a few.

The Eagles have gotten younger, but it might take a year or two for them to get better.

5. The Eagles had few options. If the Eagles had traded McNabb a month ago — before several teams addressed their quarterback needs — they might have gotten more in return. Instead, the Eagles spent weeks mulling offers for McNabb, Kolb and Vick. Once McNabb’s name surfaced in trade rumors, they almost were forced to deal him.

"It would’ve been very difficult to bring him back once they made it public they were entertaining offers," Jaworski said. "When you dangle your starting quarterback out there, the relationship really gets splintered." 

This story appears in the April 5 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only sports digital daily, sign up today.

Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

Trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins is the biggest gamble ever taken by Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid. Here are five reasons why:

1. McNabb can get quick revenge. Sending McNabb to an NFC East Division rival is a bold decision that could backfire big-time. Imagine the heat Reid will take if McNabb beats the Eagles twice next season or if the Redskins make the playoffs and the Eagles do not.

"That’s what makes this so intriguing," ESPN analyst and former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski said Sunday night. "If Donovan had gone to the Raiders, or Buffalo, or St. Louis, he wouldn’t be in position to hurt the Eagles as badly as he can with the Redskins."

The Eagles still have to deal with the Cowboys and Giants, too, and McNabb gives the Redskins a proven starting quarterback. At age 33, McNabb could make the Eagles pay, not only this year, but for seasons to come.

The glare now falls on Kevin Kolb with Donovan McNabb out of Philly.
The glare now falls on Kevin Kolb with Donovan McNabb out of Philly.

"He’s going to help the Redskins be a better football team," Reid said on a conference call. "Time will tell on the rest of it. I’m pretty confident that this is the right thing to do."

2. Kevin Kolb might not be ready. Kolb, 25, only has two career starts and will face far more pressure now. The city of Philadelphia can be hard on starting quarterbacks. Just ask McNabb, who never totally won over Eagles fans despite leading the team to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl.

"I was impressed with Kevin’s accuracy last year, but now it’s time to go out and play," Jaworski said. "No matter how many reps you get in the practice and in preseason, your whole world changes when you become the starter. We’ll see if Kevin can handle it. I’m not even sure if Kevin knows, but we’ll find out soon enough."

Not only does Kolb have a tough act to follow in McNabb, but backup Michael Vick is eager to become a starting quarterback again as well.

"I have a heck of a lot of respect for Michael Vick," Reid said. "He’s back in the swing now. Last year was great for him. We’ll see how Michael does as we go on."

If Kolb struggles in preseason, expect a full-blown quarterback controversy in Philadelphia.

3. The Eagles still have holes on defense. Even if Kolb plays well, the Eagles’ defense must improve for Philadelphia to become a Super Bowl contender. The Eagles dealt McNabb for the No. 37 pick in the 2010 draft plus either a third-round or fourth-round pick in 2011. That gives the Eagles 11 picks in this month’s draft, including five of the first 87 picks. With such ammunition, the Eagles could trade up to select a player they covet.

"You kind of sit there and you analyze — do you move up, do you move back, do you stay there, do you trade into next year?" Reid said. "We do need players on this football team. I’m sure we’ll look into maneuvering."

4. The Eagles are in transition. Suddenly they are one of the NFL’s youngest teams. They have unloaded a host of veteran players during the offseason — McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Shawn Andrews, Sheldon Brown, Kevin Curtis, Chris Clemons, Chris Gocong and Darren Howard to name a few.

The Eagles have gotten younger, but it might take a year or two for them to get better.

5. The Eagles had few options. If the Eagles had traded McNabb a month ago — before several teams addressed their quarterback needs — they might have gotten more in return. Instead, the Eagles spent weeks mulling offers for McNabb, Kolb and Vick. Once McNabb’s name surfaced in trade rumors, they almost were forced to deal him.

"It would’ve been very difficult to bring him back once they made it public they were entertaining offers," Jaworski said. "When you dangle your starting quarterback out there, the relationship really gets splintered." 

This story appears in the April 5 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only sports digital daily, sign up today.

Clifton Brown covers the NFL for Sporting News. E-mail him at cliftonbrown@sportingnews.com.

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