The move comes just 15 days after coach Mike Shanahan's controversial benching of the six-time Pro Bowl passer with 1:50 left and the Redskins trailing by six in an eventual loss to Detroit. It also smacks of a return to the Redskins' bad old days when owner Dan Snyder would throw millions around like they were footballs.
And Snyder, as is his nature, way overpaid, giving a quarterback who has the lowest passer rating of his 11 years as a starter and who turns 34 on Thanksgiving, a contract that averages $15.6 million per year. This is the owner who gave moody defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth a seven-year, $100 million deal ($41 million guaranteed) in the first hours of free agency in 2009.
So much for new general manager Bruce Allen and Shanahan reining in Snyder's impulse to spend large. True, if they hadn't reached a deal with McNabb, the Redskins' options during the offseason might have been limited to Michael Vick. But even if Philadelphia let the league's top-rated passer walk because Kevin Kolb is in the wings, there's no guarantee that he would have signed with Washington. On the other hand, young passers -- Joe Flacco (2008), Matt Ryan (2008), Mark Sanchez (2009), Sam Bradford (2010) and Colt McCoy (2010) -- are coming into the league much more prepared to play well than their predecessors were, even as recently as five years ago when Jason Campbell held a clipboard all year on Washington's sideline.
McNabb is a fine leader and he will be discussed for election to the Hall of Fame someday. And Shanahan did give up a second-round pick in this year's draft and a likely third-rounder in 2011 to acquire him from the Eagles in April. But with an offensive line that might need four new starters next year, and with likely 2011 starting running back Ryan Torain still unproven, is the aging McNabb really the right choice to lead the Redskins into the future?
McNabb's contract averages less per year than the recent deals given to New England's Tom Brady ($18 million) and the New York Giants' Eli Manning ($16.3 million), but they're both younger and have won Super Bowls. The happiest men in football about the McNabb news -- other than the participants -- have to be free-agent-to-be Vick and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, who will certainly receive even bigger contracts than the Redskins gave to No. 5.
Meanwhile, NFL owners who are hoping to claim poverty in reworking their labor deal with the players have to be cursing Snyder and his endless millions.
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