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It's a slap in the face for McNabb
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How else could Donovan McNabb have reacted when told he was traded to the Washington Redskins?
On one hand, McNabb should be grateful that Philadelphia didn’t send him to a dysfunctional franchise like Oakland or Buffalo. McNabb would have improved both squads, but those are dead-end situations. The Raiders could be headed toward an eighth consecutive season of double-digit losses. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999 and show no signs of getting there any time soon.
However, there is no bigger slap in the face than being traded within your own division.
Eagles coach Andy Reid can say that compensation – a 2010 second-round pick and a 2011 third- or fourth-rounder depending on McNabb’s production this season – is what separated the Redskins from a pack of suitors. But by shipping him to Washington, the Eagles are boldly proclaiming they’re not scared to face McNabb twice a season. This isn’t like when Green Bay did everything within its power to keep Brett Favre from playing in Minnesota.
In my column last week, I didn’t list Washington among potential suitors for McNabb because I believed they held his skills in higher regard. Instead, the Eagles think he’s Drew Bledsoe.
He was the last big-name quarterback traded between division rivals. With the emergence of Tom Brady, a 30-year-old Bledsoe was dealt from New England to Buffalo in 2002 for a first-round draft choice. Bledsoe had a standout first season with the Bills but his play then disintegrated. The Patriots were right in assessing Bledsoe as a declining player who couldn’t hurt them. He was 1-5 as a starter against New England before being released in the 2005 offseason.
McNabb’s arrival should greatly accelerate Washington’s rebuilding process. The Redskins now have the freedom to address another need with their first-round pick. Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung is the likely candidate to become the No. 4 overall selection.
McNabb, though, is three years older than Bledsoe was when he joined the Bills. It’s fair to wonder whether he will still be a good player by the time Washington is a bona fide contender once again. We know where the Eagles stand. They not only wanted McNabb to fly the coop so Kevin Kolb could start. Philadelphia didn’t even care that McNabb was landing in a familiar nest.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Dallas released two high-profile veterans -- left tackle Flozell Adams and free safety Ken Hamlin.
The cause: Cowboys brass didn’t believe either player was worth the lofty base salaries they were set to collect in 2010. Dallas wanted Hamlin off its books badly enough to cut him despite $1.1 million of his $5.6 million base salary being guaranteed. Adams was slated to earn $7.5 million in base salary and a roster bonus.
The effect: There’s lots of fallout from a move that came at a curious time. Had they waited until after the draft, the Cowboys could have kept Adams and/or Hamlin as insurance in case the left tackle and safety spots couldn’t be adequately addressed in the early rounds. Then again, it wasn’t exactly a state secret that Adams and Hamlin were on thin ice.
Adams started to show his age (34) last season, leading to cheap-shot tactics against opponents and $80,000 in NFL fines. Hamlin simply didn’t make the impact expected when signed to a six-year, $39 million contract in the 2008 offseason. If training camp opened today, Doug Free would replace Adams and Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin would be competing for the starting free-safety spot. Free struggled against Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen in relief duty for an injured Adams during last season’s playoff loss but otherwise showed great improvement during the 2009 campaign. Mike Hamlin, a 2009 fifth-round draft choice, has more long-term potential as an all-around free safety than the undersized Ball.
The top free-agent safety options include Darren Sharper (New Orleans) and O.J. Atogwe, who is under a right-of-first-refusal restricted free-agent tender from St. Louis. As for Adams and Ken Hamlin, both should be signing elsewhere relatively soon. Adams would be an effective short-term fix in Oakland or Buffalo. The safety-starved Dolphins could be an option for Hamlin, who played in Dallas under Miami general manager Jeff Ireland in 2007.
New Arizona kicker Jay Feely either wore out his welcome in New York or the Jets are truly pinching pennies in a year without a salary cap. During an appearance with me and co-host Bryan McGovern on Sirius NFL Radio, Feely said Jets management told him it was looking to save money that would be allocated toward contract extensions for young standouts still on their rookie deals like cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris and center Nick Mangold. In fact, Feely claims he was offered a 2010 base salary that was $300,000 less than what he earned during a strong 2009 campaign. The Jets previously saved about $3 million in 2010 by releasing running back Thomas Jones and signing ex-San Diego starter LaDainian Tomlinson. Feely signed a two-year, $4.8 million contract with the Cardinals …
New York and Arizona may essentially be swapping kickers with Neil Rackers set to visit with the Jets. Playing in a new home stadium this fall, New York would be wise to have a veteran compete with Dallas Cowboys castoff Nick Folk …
Even at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, University of Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap said he recently ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. Dunlap, though, must convince teams that he won’t follow in the footsteps of Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey. They too were physical freaks who became first-round picks after leaving school as juniors. Moss is a bust in Denver, while Harvey has just 5.5 sacks in two seasons with Jacksonville. Dunlap, who had 19 sacks in a mere 15 college starts, says his strong work ethic helps him stand on his own.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Big winner: Cleveland by acquiring cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong from Philadelphia for linebacker Alex Hall and 2010 fourth- and fifth-round picks. The Browns addressed one of their biggest pre-draft needs by landing the rock-solid Brown, who has missed only one start in the past six seasons. Cleveland can now address another position with the No. 7 overall pick. University of Tennessee safety Eric Berry is the early favorite if he’s still on the board. Florida cornerback Joe Haden may now slip to No. 10 (Jacksonville) or No. 13 (San Francisco). As for Gocong, he has a chance for playing time in Cleveland if he can learn to better shed blocks. That problem contributed to Gocong’s benching last season.
Big loser: Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Not since Bryant McKinnie detailed his strip-club hopping during Pro Bowl week has an NFL player caused more self-inflicted damage through Twitter. Holmes told one of his followers to “kill urself” in an exchange regarding a criminal investigation into an alleged assault at an Orlando nightclub. Holmes later sent another Tweet saying it was time to “wake n bake,” which is considered slang for marijuana use (Holmes was arrested on a possession charge in 2008). This hasn’t gone over well with Steelers management, which is already concerned about the franchise’s tainted image amid the Ben Roethlisberger scandal. Holmes is too talented to simply release, but trading one of the heroes from Super Bowl XLIII may not be out of the question.
Under-the-radar move: San Diego signed ex-Chicago cornerback Nathan Vasher to a two-year contract. The Chargers continue to use the veteran free-agent route for secondary depth after trading Antonio Cromartie to the Jets. Vasher and newcomer Donald Strickland (Jets) should serve as the nickel and dime cornerbacks respectively behind starters Quentin Jammer and 2008 first-round pick Antoine Cason, who is being promoted to fill Cromartie’s spot. Largely because of injuries, Vasher never lived up to the five-year, $28 million contract extension he signed with Chicago in 2007. He will have the chance to rebound under San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who held the same position with the Bears for Vasher’s first three NFL seasons (2004 to 2006).
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS WEEK’S CALENDAR
Wednesday (April 7): Florida State safety Myron Rolle holds a private workout for NFL scouts in Orlando. Rolle, who didn’t play last season as a Rhodes Scholar, said he recently ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds on a field with high grass. Strong test times could help push Rolle into the second or third round.
Friday (April 9): Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen finally holds his pro-day workout. Clausen, who will likely be the second quarterback drafted behind Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, was recovering from post-season toe surgery.