Though the tea leaves have been in place since Sunday, when FOX’s Jay Glazer first reported that Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb could be benched for Rex Grossman, coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to flip the switch from franchise quarterback to a guy with the accuracy of a sawed-off shotgun who has been bouncing around the league since losing his job in Chicago is a stunner.
Count among the stunned McNabb’s agent, Fletcher Smith.
“Disrespectful is probably not strong enough of a word,” Smith told Jason Reid of the Washington Post. “Donovan has handled himself with nothing but class, not just in Washington but as an ambassador for the league. To treat him this way . . . it’s beyond disrespectful.”
Smith says the pattern of disrespect began when McNabb was benched for Grossman late in a Halloween loss to the Lions.
“[I]t really started with Detroit and it was just wrong the way Donovan was treated,” Smith said. “Just the way Mike handled the whole situation in Detroit, and in almost every instance since that time, and this is, I guess, the culmination of that. I think it’s . . . again, it’s beyond disrespectful.”
If, as Smith believes, this all started on October 31, why did he let McNabb sign a contract extension 15 days later? Smith’s decision to recommend that McNabb ink a deal that, in essence, pays McNabb $3.5 million in exchange for the Redskins’ ability to decide whether to keep him or trade him until September 2011 suggests to us that Smith was led to believe that the Redskins wouldn’t move on from McNabb after one season.
Smith’s anger suggests that he now knows he was duped. (Don’t feel bad, Fletcher. Shanahan lies to everybody.)
With Grossman now at the wheel, the message is that McNabb is available to whoever may want him. Though the benching necessarily reduces Donovan’s trade value, Shanahan and his son, Kyle, apparently have decided that the time has come to find out whether Grossman could be the starter next year.