NFL teams pass on Donovan McNabb

December 2, 2011

Donovan McNabb is a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career. After his last two disappointing stints as a starter, it's not clear what the future has in store for one of the most accomplished quarterbacks of his generation.

McNabb was unclaimed by the waiver deadline on Friday afternoon, one day after he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings so he could pursue an opportunity for playing time elsewhere.

''This was probably the most desirable outcome,'' McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, told The Associated Press on Friday. ''This way it really gives him a chance to weigh his options and evaluate the situations as they come and make the best decision for him.

''The intent all along was to put himself in a position to explore any opportunities as they present themselves. He could not do that while he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings.''


Vikings coach Leslie Frazier knew McNabb from their days together in Philadelphia, and he hand-picked the veteran to serve as a bridge between Brett Favre and rookie Christian Ponder.

Frazier was convinced a rough season in Washington in 2010 was a fluke and McNabb could help the first-year head coach avoid a rebuilding season in Minnesota.

Playing behind a leaky offensive line and with a lack of playmaking receivers in the passing game, McNabb struggled to get the Vikings offense off the ground. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,026 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in six games. But he only completed five passes of 25 yards or more and was benched in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss in Chicago that dropped the Vikings to 1-5.

Ponder took over as the starter the following week, and McNabb pushed for his release when he realized that there would be no chance for him to see the field for the rest of the season. The Vikings (2-9) obliged on Thursday and picked up Sage Rosenfels off waivers from Miami to fill McNabb's roster spot.

That leaves the future of a highly decorated quarterback - six Pro Bowls, five NFC championship games, a Super Bowl appearance and more than 37,000 yards passing - very much in doubt. After leading the Eagles so proudly for 11 seasons, the 34-year-old McNabb has stumbled in his last two stops in Washington and Minnesota.

Smith said McNabb ''still feels he can play at a high level today.''

There was talk of his hometown Bears putting a claim in on McNabb after they lost starter Jay Cutler to a broken thumb. But the Bears declined to do so, hoping that Caleb Hanie can steer them to the playoffs before Cutler is healthy enough to return to the field.

After passing through waivers, McNabb is free to sign with any team, and Smith said that playing time wouldn't necessarily be the top priority.

''At the end of the day, at this stage of his career, the most important thing for him is winning a Super Bowl,'' Smith said. ''That's what he wanted in Minnesota, that's what he wanted in Washington and that's what he wanted in Philadelphia. If he moves to another team, that's what he'll want there.''

But will that next opportunity come as a starter? Frazier said Thursday he still believes McNabb has a future in the NFL, but he hesitated when asked if it was as a starter.

''I'm not certain about that,'' Frazier said. ''It depends. Every team is so different in what their needs are. A lot depends on the team he goes to, if he goes to another team.''