If/when the lockout ends, a largely unprecedented game of quarterback musical chairs could unfold, with a pair of veterans who have started Super Bowls among the several veteran signal-callers who will be available.
The biggest name, current skills notwithstanding, could be Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Thanks to a contract extension that he signed in 2010 after being benched in crunch time of an eventual loss to the Lions, the Redskins hold McNabb’s rights. And coach Mike Shanahan surely will want to try to trade McNabb, if for no reason other than to recoup some of the trade consideration (a second-round pick in 2010 and a fourth-rounder in 2011) that the Redskins shipped to Philly for McNabb in 2010.
The contract extension to which McNabb agreed gives the Redskins the ability to squat on McNabb until the eve of the regular-season opener. After Week One, the Redskins would owe McNabb a $10 million option bonus and a $2.5 million base salary. Before then, however, the Redskins owe McNabb nothing — and thus the Redskins can wait for the kind of trade offer that they want.
Or McNabb can buy out the balance of his contract. For the tidy sum of $30 million.
Jason Reid of the Washington Post recently speculated that the Redskins would get, at most, a conditional sixth-round or seventh-round pick for McNabb. Even then, McNabb likely would have to be willing to renegotiate his contract.
But would McNabb, who has a reputation for obsessing over appearances, sign off on a trade that nets scraps at best? If, as has been widely reported and never refuted, McNabb refused last season to wear a wristband last containing the team’s plays because of its potential impact on his image, the idea that he’s only worth a conditional late-round pick won’t do anything to promote the notion that he’s still an elite quarterback.
Thus, this one could get ugly. McNabb stubbornly will want to be cut, not traded, so that he can pick his next team without the application of the ugly-hat-with-a-free-bowl-of-soup stigma. Shanahan stubbornly will want to get value for McNabb.
Since McNabb is under contract, look for him to show up for duty when training camp opens. And what transpires could make last year’s Albert Haynesworth brouhaha look like a mild disagreement over the finer points of the rules of Monopoly.
Somewhere, Terrell Owens has his popcorn ready.