Ten years ago on Easter (not 10 years to the day because Easter was on April 4 that year), a quiet news day quickly got a lot louder when the Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb. Making the move even more surprising was the fact that a division rival did the deal, with Washington sending the 37th overall pick in the 2010 draft and a fourth-round pick in 2011 for McNabb.
The move happened just three days after then-Eagles coach Andy Reid told reporters that McNabb would remain the team’s starting quarterback. Instead, Kevin Kolb opened the year as the top quarterback, and then a concussion in Week Two opened the door for Mike Vick’s second act.
Things started well for McNabb; Washington beat the Cowboys in Week One and after losses to the Texans and Rams upended the Eagles in Week Four at Philadelphia. But things fell apart as the season unfolded, even as McNabb received a new contract from Washington that was worth a lot less than initially reported. Washington dropped McNabb to third on the depth chart little more than a month later, and the team unloaded McNabb onto the Vikings after only one season.
McNabb started 1-5 in Minnesota during the 2011 season, was benched for rookie Christian Ponder, was later released per McNabb’s request, and never played again even though he turned 35 just days before the Vikings cut him.
Think about that one for a second. At the time McNabb was cut, Tom Brady was 34. And Brady is still going strong.
So the Eagles clearly made the right call, jettisoning McNabb not one year too early nor one year too late but at the right time, getting real value for him. And Washington would make everyone forget the botched trade only two years later, by giving up a lot more to get Robert Griffin III.