The Donovan McNabb trade, 10 years later

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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.

62 responses to “The Donovan McNabb trade, 10 years later

  1. McNabb was one of those guys that got bye on talent alone, and when father time kicks in, you gotta work to fight him. McNabb didn’t have that kind of work ethic. Who could blame him though. Guy made millions by 35. How many people would keep working hard if they were already independently wealthy?

  2. Danny gave up a bundle for McNabb and RGIII and allowed Cousins to walk without getting anything in return. The past decade has been a debacle.

  3. That was one of those trades that did not work out well for either team. McNabb was on the downside of his career and did nothing special in DC. The Eagles failed to capitalize on the draft picks they obtained in exchange for DMac.

  4. It’s possible that McNabb’s career might have continued if he had a better situation around him, such as Brady’s?!

  5. Tom Brady is not going strong at all. For his standards of play, he was horrible last year up against every metric.

    Without even me looking, I bet his compl% in the red zone was worse in 2019 than 2018 when it was 35%.

    Watch the games, people. Seeing Brady doesn’t mean he is the same qb. He is all gone…All gone. When the ego goes, it goes.

  6. Washington, for over a decade, has literally written a how-to guide for GM’s on what not to do in managing their draft, player trades, contracts and FA acquisitions. Unreal. Even broken clocks are right more often

  7. Back when I was a child he was a likeable player, someone that could scramble and improvise wisely when chaos play breakdowns occurred. He had a decent madding peak rating, like 90-92 workable… something really happened I don’t know that time in minny was pathetic.. good luck guy. I remember him almost winning the superbowl… tough luck. Football will be back its inevitable and too much dough to blow

  8. This is spot on. “You have to know when to hold em, and when to fold em” – Kenny / and Bill The Patriot dude.

  9. This trade was a disaster for us Redskins fans. First of all Mike Shanahan didn’t want McNabb in the first place and especially for the picks they gave. The team in 2010 was in much worse shape than it is today (Shanahan knew that and that’s why he didn’t like the trade) so giving up 2 picks for McNabb was not ideal. The team needed to rebuild and weren’t a QB away from being good or for that case competitive. Not surprisingly the team went 11-21 the next 2 years. Snyder and Bruce Allen ignored Shanahan then and 2 years later when they traded all those picks for RG3.

  10. Redskins major BooBoos. Albert Hainsworth, Donny McNabb, Bobby Griffin, Deon Sanders and Adam Archaleta.

  11. One of the most overrated players I’ve ever seen, but that east coast market. Just imagine how Drew Brees for instance would be regarded if he played in Philly, New York or Boston.

  12. I remember that like it was yesterday! I was stunned at first but after Kolb went down and Vick played great while MvNabb fell apart, it just confirmed that Andy Reid is the QB guru! He knows when to hold em, trade em and walk away.

  13. McNabb still holds the distinction of being the only NFL player to lose his job to Christian Ponder, a really good guy.

  14. Andy Reid got more out of McNabb then I feel any other coach could have. If he would have landed with any other team in the draft that year his career probably would have been a lot shorter.

  15. You can’t be in the HOF when your a bad passer of the football. Too erratic.

    And when most of the fans of your team didn’t like you, doesn’t bode well.

  16. If I remember correctly RGIII had a good rookie year until his coach ran him into the ground by exposing him to big hits, and not resting him when he was injured.

  17. What an odd character McNabb was. He let himself believe that some radio host a 10 idiots were what all the fans were like and he wasnt welcome. He was always looking over his shoulder waiting for the next act like draft day. Most of us wanted him and not Ricky Williams but that day convinced him otherwise. He couldnt handle the spot light when Owens came to Philadelphia. In the end it was himself who made fans turn against him.

  18. “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.

    Yup. That’s my team!!!

  19. I love AR. However, he has a history of unloading QBs at the right time. Patrick, the clock is ticking. Seven years from now AR will get 3 first rounders for Patrick.

  20. I remember him with the Vikings, he was God awful. Ponder was supposed to sit a year behind him and learn. Instead he got thrown in too early and that certianly didn’t do his career any favors. I wondered at the time if McNabb was really washed up that quickly or if he had simply lost the desire.

  21. Andy Reid and Jim Johnson propped him up his whole career. After them he was who he really was.

  22. I’ll always remember his last play when he smiled after giving up a safety in the endzone vs Chicago. He never played another snap again.

  23. Big Red had perfect timing in dumping McNabb, but it didn’t matter because he blew the 37th pick on Nate Allen.

  24. Trading for a guy who at the most important moment of his career puked on the Super Bowl field in front on hundreds of millions of people, maybe not a great choice.

  25. If Andy Reid decides he can’t work with you as a QB anymore, its time to retire. That should be a rule of thumb for every QB in the league.

  26. Andy Reid deserved to be in the HOF even before earning a ring with KC simply b/c he managed to get to FIVE NFC Championship games with McNabb at QB and dogmeat (except for one year of T.O.) at wide receiver

  27. It’s amazing how dumb the Redskins have been for so long… For Reid to make an inter-divisional trade like that, that tells you right there that the Redskins were offering way more than anyone else, and he knew McNabb was washed up. How often do you hear about starting QBs being traded within the division? I can think of Bledsoe being traded to the Bills, but that’s about it.

  28. And a year later, Kevin Kolb was also traded for a 2nd round pick. Big Red was great at getting value for QB trades.

  29. That’s ancient history — Dwayne Haskins is going to lead the Redskins to the promised land.

  30. Reid took the Redskins to the cleaners again with Alex Smith. Smith was clearly on the downside of his career and as per usual the Redskins overpaid to get him. And as is typical of the Redskins’ luck, Smith ended up getting horribly injured halfway into his first season in Washington. What a mess.

  31. hawkwind8 says:
    April 12, 2020 at 11:35 pm
    Redskins major BooBoos. Albert Hainsworth, Donny McNabb, Bobby Griffin, Deon Sanders and Adam Archaleta.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Plus – Josh Norman. Dana Stubblefield. Jim Zorn, Jeff George, Rex Grossman,

  32. The fact that I can’t believe anyone is even thinking McNabb should be in the HOF, I guess, tells you what I think about that. Just having the discussion is an insult to the guys in the Hall.

  33. ringheadcrusher says:
    April 13, 2020 at 11:20 am
    The fact that I can’t believe anyone is even thinking McNabb should be in the HOF, I guess, tells you what I think about that. Just having the discussion is an insult to the guys in the Hall.
    —-
    McNabb had a hell of a career. In fact a better overall career than a number of QBs in the hall of Fame so the statemnt you typed up is a bit rediculous. I don’t think he did quit enough to officially make it. He was very good for a long time but not hall of fame good.

  34. Its not an insult … McNabb won 107 games and his only NFC Championship with pedestrian offensive teammates … yes, he had an excellent defence but other than Westbrook, Owens for one season, Staley for three seasons and some overachieving TEs, he had NO weapons but still went to five NFC Championship Gms and a SB, though he didnt play well like most of the QBs that face a Patriots defence …

    Though sensitive, he has a HOF Case …

  35. “Just imagine how Drew Brees for instance would be regarded if he played in Philly, New York or Boston”

    They would have built statues of him, because he’s a superbowl caliber QB and one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game. The Northeast can be harsh on some athletes, like ones who are either puking or so out-of-shape they can’t run a 4-minute drill. Great athletes wouldn’t have those types of issues.

  36. Big Red had perfect timing in dumping McNabb, but it didn’t matter because he blew the 37th pick on Nate Allen.
    —-
    This was the first thing I looked up – who did they take with that pick? Man, a lot of teams like the Eagles missed out on guys like Gronk, Sean Lee, Linval Joseph, Terence Cody in that 2nd round.

    Then again, hindsight’s always 20/20.

  37. @rxv5854 says:
    April 13, 2020 at 9:46 am
    If Andy Reid decides he can’t work with you as a QB anymore, its time to retire. That should be a rule of thumb for every QB in the league.
    ====================================================
    If Andy is offering a QB..RUN!!! Here’s a recap: McNabb (got a 2nd and pick that ultimately became Nick Foles; Kolb (got a 2nd AND DRC); A.J. Feeley (got a 2nd), Alex Smith (Kendall Fuller and 3rd). Andy is a boss!

  38. I’d love to see a matrix of whether you believe McNabb puked in the Super Bowl and what your political affiliation is.

  39. whodatdomefieldadvantage says:
    April 13, 2020 at 11:01 am
    hawkwind8 says:
    April 12, 2020 at 11:35 pm
    Redskins major BooBoos. Albert Hainsworth, Donny McNabb, Bobby Griffin, Deon Sanders and Adam Archaleta.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Plus – Josh Norman. Dana Stubblefield. Jim Zorn, Jeff George, Rex Grossman,

    Thanks! I forgot about them!!

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