By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 5:01 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Rich Gannon was 33 when the Raiders signed him as an unrestricted free agent after a four-year run with the Kansas City Chiefs ended in 1999.
It didn’t take long for Gannon to assert himself as the Raiders unquestioned starting quarterback and make people forget about Jeff George, Donald Hollas and Wade Wilson.
Gannon earned Pro Bowl honors four straight seasons and was the league MVP for the 2002 season.
Perhaps, then, it makes sense to learn of the Raiders of approaching the Philadelphia Eagles about a trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The news comes from Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports in a story that says the Raiders and Buffalo Bills have contacted the Eagles about trading for McNabb.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said at the NFL owners meeting in Orlando, Fla., earlier this week that he has been contacted by teams about all three of his quarterbacks, including Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.
“We’ll go back and look through those [talks] and think through them a little bit once we’re away from this situation here,” Reid said. “[There is] nothing that, right now, that I can jump up and down about. But there has been some interest. … I’m listening to things out there. I’m not saying I’m doing anything. I’m just keeping my ears open, which we do on every player. This is no different.”
That has helped fuel the speculation, which is running rampant about now.
The Philadelphia Inquirer cited a league source in reporting that the St. Louis Rams are offering the Eagles a second-round draft pick (No. 33 overall) and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe for McNabb.
A Rams source told NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora that there is nothing to that report. Later, Rams general manager Billy Devaney told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Inquirer report is “utterly ridiculous” and that he hasn’t spoken with the Eagles about any of his players.
Make of it what you will. The move makes sense from the Raiders standpoint if coach Tom Cable and managing general partner Al Davis aren’t sold upon JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye as the starter for next season.
Cable certainly isn’t sold upon any of the three as the unquestioned starter, saying it’s a full, wide-open competition come training camp. Trading for McNabb could change that in an instant.
The thinking also could go along the lines of bringing in McNabb so that he can give the Raiders the best chance of succeeding this year and asking him to help develop Russell.
It’s worth noting that McNabb had flattering things to say about Russell a few days before the Eagles played the Raiders at the Coliseum last season and went out of his way after the game to speak with Russell.
“Not all the negative aspects of what’s been going on should fall on JaMarcus because it’s a team game,” McNabb said in a conference call with Raiders beat writers four days before the Raiders beat McNabb and the Eagles.
McNabb said that Russell’s progress has been retarded by the high turnover in coaches, offensive coordinators, play-callers and players during his first three seasons.
It’s a tough situation for him,” McNabb said in the conference call. “I’m sure that he’s going to do what he has to do in order to pull himself out of it, and just make sure the guys understand that he’s putting in the effort as well.”
Cable said Tuesday at the owners meeting that Russell is putting in the required effort and that things are going as planned. Maybe so, but that’s coming from the same coach who pulled Russell from games twice last season and, ultimately, benched him for the final seven games.
The Raiders aren’t allowed to comment on a player under contract to another team, so there’s nothing from their camp about the McNabb-to-the-Raiders stories. Two Raiders employees said that they were unaware of the Raiders contacting the Eagles about McNabb.
McNabb was the second pick of the 1999 NFL draft by the Eagles. He has amassed 32,873 yards and 216 touchdowns passing, with only 100 interceptions. The Eagles have reached the playoffs eight times and the Super Bowl once on his watch.
The reports of McNabb being shopped by the Eagles prompted him to respond on his blog on yardbarker.com.
“I was asked to respond to statements made at the NFL owners meetings that the Eagles would entertain offers to trade any of their three QBs,” McNabb said. “Here is my response: My position hasn’t changed. I’ve said all along that I would like to win a Super Bowl and finish my career in Philadelphia.
“I understand the situation well and just hope whichever direction the Eagles decide to go in, they do it quickly. I think that would be best for me, Kevin, Michael, the Eagles, and any other teams involved. No matter what happens, I’ve already begun preparing to have an outstanding season in 2010.”
Last season, McNabb passed for 3,553 yards and 22 touchdowns. He completed 60.3 percent of his passes, with 10 interceptions.
By comparison, Russell, Gradkowski and Frye passed for 2,875 yards and 10 touchdowns. The trio completed 52.8 percent of their passes, with 18 interceptions.
Any team trading for McNabb would inherit his contract, which expires after next season. He also is due a $6.2 million roster bonus in May. In other words, it’s likely that the Raiders or another team that trades for him first would attempt to work out a long-term contract.
Russell’s contract calls for him to earn $9.45 million in 2010. Of that figure, $3 million is guaranteed whether he is on the opening-day roster or not.