This doesn't compute.
The Philadelphia Eagles might have been able to ship Donovan McNabb to Oakland or Buffalo, moving him out of the NFC and keeping the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback at a safe distance.
Instead, the Eagles on Sunday traded McNabb within the division, sending him to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick this year and a third- or fourth-round selection next year. In doing so, the Eagles handed over one of the best players in club history to a bitter rival, and to new Coach Mike Shanahan, who already has one of the league's up-and-coming defenses. Not only that, but the Redskins hung onto their No. 4 pick, which they could deal or maybe use on an elite offensive tackle.
Explaining the move on a conference call Sunday night, Eagles Coach Andy Reid said the club "thought it was the best deal for us and for Donovan."
(McNabb could have derailed potential deals with the Bills and Raiders by saying he wouldn't agree to long-term agreements with either of them. We don't know what happened in those discussions, but it's entirely plausible he put the kibosh on them.)
While it's honorable that the Eagles are so concerned about what's best for McNabb — he did quite a bit for that franchise, after all — that runs counter to everything we've always heard about the NFL being a win-at-all-costs business. It seems a little too accommodating for the Eagles to concern themselves with what's most comfortable for a player they're discarding, especially one who's now in prime position to hurt them.
"I'm going to sit here and tell you that he's going to help the Redskins be a better football team, and then time will tell on the rest," Reid said.
Why would the Eagles want to do one iota to help the Redskins be a better team? Evidently, Reid feels good enough about the deal to rest easy.
"I'm pretty confident that this was the right thing to do," he said.
A similar move worked out well for New England in 2002, when the Patriots traded quarterback Drew Bledsoe to division rival Buffalo. He had a good first season for the Bills, but never really stuck it to his former team.
Then again, the Patriots had Tom Brady, who was coming off a Super Bowl victory. The Eagles have Kevin Kolb, who has thrown 130 passes in his career. What the future holds for Michael Vick is unclear; the Eagles aren't saying much about Vick and have positioned this as Kolb taking over for McNabb.
Trading McNabb within the division isn't simply tempting fate. It's more like a taunting touchdown dance directly in the face of fate.
Brian Mitchell can relate. He's a former teammate of McNabb's who was a returner/running back for the Redskins, Eagles and New York Giants.
Mitchell spoke to McNabb after the trade and told Comcast SportsNet he heard "a lot of enthusiasm" in the quarterback's voice.
"He may not be exactly like me," Mitchell said, "but I could hear he had a little revenge in that voice, too. And he wants to go to the Eagles and show them that they made a mistake."
This isn't the first time the Eagles traded their starting quarterback to the Redskins. They did the same thing in 1964. Remember old No. 9 from Duke?
Jurgensen, Sonny. Canton, Class of 1983.