Monday, April 5, 2010

Redskins trade for McNabb, shock an entire fan base

After a few relatively minor signings this offseason, the Redskins finally made a big splash -- and, for once, not many people saw it coming. Last night, the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb, acquiring the six-time Pro Bowler for a 2010 second-round pick and either a third- or fourth-round choice in 2011. The move feels a bit familiar because it involves the trading of draft picks, which most fans desperately wish the Redskins would stop doing, but it also feels a bit foreign as well considering not only did the Redskins acquire a big name quarterback, but they also traded within the NFC East.

This move has several angles that need to be examined:

1) Shanahan must not have been impressed with Campbell. Do you think new head coach Mike Shanahan felt confident going into the upcoming season with Jason Campbell as his starting quarterback? Probably not. I wonder if this is something that will eventually be explained, because I thought the goal all along was for Campbell to start this season while a younger quarterback waited in the wings for the next season or two. Honestly, I was looking forward to seeing how Campbell would adjust to yet another offensive system, though this time he would be working under one of the best offensive minds in football.

2) What do the Redskins do with Campbell now? Hindsight is 20/20, but most fans should have seen at least some kind of quarterback move coming because the Redskins never publicly committed to Campbell as the starting quarterback this season. They even brought in Rex Grossman to, as it was announced at the time, compete with Campbell for the starting job. Now, McNabb is the clear No. 1 quarterback on the roster, meaning there isn't much of a reason to keep Campbell. If the Redskins are able to move Campbell, maybe they'll be able to trade for a mid-round draft choice.

3) Why are the Redskins targeting older players? McNabb is 33. Willie Parker is 29. And Larry Johnson is 30. (And oddly enough, all three have birthdays in November.) Basically all of the players the Redskins have signed or acquired this offseason are on the downside of their career. So what exactly does this mean? Are the Redskins just trying to improve the team for next season while also planning for the future? Those questions and more probably won't be answered until seeing the Redskins' approach in the upcoming NFL Draft. One of the most important questions will be:

4) Will the Redskins still draft a quarterback this year? This is a huge question, especially for next season. It's no secret that the Redskins need offensive linemen in the worst way. Campbell was supposed to be the bridge to the quarterback of the future, but that player now appears to be McNabb, who is probably a better option. But, as stated before, he's on the downside of his career, so at some point, either this season or next, the Redskins will have to draft a quarterback. But when will they do that? As of right now, the Redskins only have four choices in the 2010 draft: first round (4th overall), fourth round (103), fifth round (135), and seventh round (211). No matter who they pick in the first round, the Redskins don't select another player until the fourth round, nearly 100 spots later.

5) Will the Redskins trade down? They probably should trade down to get more draft picks, but will another team be willing to move up to the No. 4 slot while also giving the Redskins what they want? There will still be talented players at No. 4, but teams frequently are unwilling to trade up that high because of the high price tag that player will command. Hopefully if the Redskins can't trade down, they'll select the best available offensive lineman, but at this point, no one really knows what they'll do.

One more thing: I understand why the Redskins made this move, and I think most fans can see the rationale behind it. If the Redskins are able to find a young quarterback they like in this year's draft or next year's, then McNabb isn't a bad choice to be the team's quarterback until then. However, the Redskins really need to stop trading draft picks. It's downright laughable at this point. There probably isn't another team in the NFL that values draft picks less, and it's not surprising to understand why the Redskins don't have adequate depth at most positions.

Although McNabb is a little more mobile than Campbell, he still needs an offensive line to give him time. Even if the Redskins take a left tackle at No. 4, there's still work to be done to significantly improve the line.

Obviously, there will be more to come as the draft approaches. Let's just see what else the Redskins do this week.

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