By ANDREW ELLIOTT
This past Sunday was opening night for Major League Baseball, with the sports fiercest rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees taking center stage. However, a shocking NFL trade between division rivals stole the spotlight. One of the most prominent faces in Philadelphia professional sports, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, was traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for draft picks. This trade was shocking to fans everywhere and most likely had people checking their calendars to see if it was still April Fools Day.
But it was no joke. According to the Washington Post, the Redskins gave the Eagles their 37th overall pick in the 2010 draft and either a third or fourth round selection in the 2011 draft, depending on McNabb’s performance in the upcoming season.
In McNabb, the Redskins acquired a 33-year-old veteran quarterback that had previously appeared in six Pro Bowls, been to five NFC Championship games and also led a team to a Super Bowl. McNabb was officially introduced in Washington in a press conference on Tuesday and it is being reported that he and the Redskins have already begun negotiations regarding a contract extension.
McNabb was drafted by the Eagles with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft and was with the organization until the Sunday night trade. McNabb leaves Philly as the franchise leader in passing yards, completions, attempts, completion percentage and touchdown passes.
After 11 seasons of McNabb wearing the traditional green and white Philadelphia uniform, it was odd to see him holding up his burgundy and gold Redskins No. 5 jersey during Tuesday’s press conference. But the trade will allow McNabb to face his former team at least twice a year, which should only ratchet up an already intense rivalry.
The fact that the Eagles let McNabb go to a team within their division is peculiar because he is still one of the better quarterbacks in the league. It is apparent that the Eagles are looking to get younger and take the team in a different direction. It also seems clear that Philadelphia has a great deal of confidence with the quarterback they drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft, Kevin Kolb. Philadelphia also still has former Pro-Bowl quarterback Michael Vick on the roster, who could be another option at the quarterback position if Kolb struggles or gets injured.
The Redskins’ quarterback for the past five seasons, Jason Campbell, now is left in a role yet to be determined. New Washington Head Coach Mike Shanahan stated back in January that he “was looking forward to working with Jason (Campbell),” but apparently Shanahan couldn’t resist having a more accomplished player in McNabb under center. Campbell’s contract will expire after the 2010 season and it appears that his days as a Redskin are limited. The team will likely try to trade Campbell before the new season breaks way.
The addition of McNabb also helps answer some questions about the upcoming NFL Draft. With Washington slated to pick fourth in the first round, a lot of speculation had been made whether the Redskins would go with Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen or Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung. It seems clear now with McNabb in tow that Washington will look to sure up their offensive line and select Okung with their first pick to help protect their new quarterback’s blindside.
The acquisition of McNabb is the biggest move made by the Redskins since Shanahan became the team’s head coach and Bruce Allen was announced as the General Manager. The upgrade at the quarterback position has many Washington fans thinking the playoffs are in reach. But regardless of the overall outcome, this move will certainly provide more storylines for the pair of games set to take place between the two division rivals this season.