Five years ago yesterday — and precisely five Easters ago today — the NFL proved that pro football never takes a day off, via the out-of-nowhere trade that sent quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Eagles to Washington.
In hindsight, it really wasn’t a bolt from the blue. Even though former Eagles coach Andy Reid had declared McNabb to be the starter for 2010, some (like PFT) wouldn’t believe it until Philadelphia extended McNabb’s contract, which was due to expire after the upcoming season. A week before the trade happened, we concluded that a trade was inevitable; a day before it happened, Jay Glazer of FOX reported that Philadelphia and Washington had been talking about a possible deal.
After a declaration from former G.M. (now executive V.P. of football operations) Bruce Allen that McNabb would be the quarterback in D.C. “for years,” McNabb eventually got a new contract, a grossly overhyped deal that came after McNabb had been benched by former Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Initially reported as being a five-year extension worth $78 million, with $40 million guaranteed, the new contract guaranteed McNabb only $3.5 million.
McNabb’s “for years” tenure with the team amounted to one, with 13 starts, 3,377 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and 10 fumbles (only one of which was recovered by the opposing defense). Next came a post-lockout trade to the Vikings for a sixth-round draft choice that became running back Alfred Morris.
Five days after the deal, Deion Sanders of NFL Network declared it to be the “dumbest trade ever,” comparing it to the Herschel Walker “shibacle,” with the Eagles in Deion’s view getting the raw end of the transaction. Philly actually won the trade in the short term, winning the division in 2010 with Mike Vick resurrecting his career after a Week One concussion suffered by Kevin Kolb.
Neither team won the trade over the long haul, with both franchises missing the playoffs in 2011, and Washington pressing the reset button in 2012 with a blockbuster deal for Robert Griffin III. Washington won the division with a 10-6 record that year, the Eagles won the division the following season with a 10-6 record (and a new head coach), and both team missed the playoffs in 2014.
The deal is now officially a lose-lose, with neither franchise winning a playoff game in the five years since McNabb left Philly.
Maybe the two teams can give it another try this year, if Marcus Mariota falls past the first four picks and remains on the board when Washington is on the clock.