Despite last week's breathless anticipation about a pending trade of Donovan McNabb away from the Eagles, we can all back away, at least for the moment. Nothing to see here, step away from the scene.
At least for now there is no deal for McNabb (or Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick), and perhaps there will not be one at all. I certainly understand the swirl of rumor and intrigue now living outside of Philadelphia, having been a consultant with the Eagles and knowing the passionate fan base here. However, these things are never as easy or uncomplicated as they may seem.
Supply and Demand
The Eagles are in an interesting position with their quarterbacks, a position that is enviable yet uncertain. They have three capable quarterbacks - all of different skills sets - under contract. Most NFL teams do not have this luxury and there is a noticeable dearth of talent at the sport's most important position. In the past month, a quarterback named David Whitehurst signed a contract that may average $5 million and allowing a much bigger payday in two years. Former Eagles' third quarterback AJ Feeley signed for two years and $6 million. Recently terminated (his contract, not him) Jake Delhomme will receive $7 million from the Browns this season to go along with his $13 million from the Panthers. Quarterbacks make what appear to be incongruous amounts simply because of supply and demand; they are hard to find.
The Eagles have three of them, which, in theory, give them some leverage in trade discussions (read negotiations) with other teams around the league. When the trading period opened on March 5, the Eagles were in a position to set the opening offers. Whatever price they set - if they did set one -- was either met with counter offers or decisions by other teams to pass, move on to other options or - most likely - simply wait. These negotiations are dormant for the moment but always a phone call away, moving towards a reckoning point on Draft weekend in late April. The important point is that, like any negotiation, these things are fluid, often changing with outside factors from week to week, day to day, or even hour to hour.
Things Can Change Quickly
At this time last year, while working with the Eagles, I remember how the team had been rebuffed several times in efforts to acquire Pro Bowl offensive tackle Jason Peters from the Buffalo Bills. The Bills had heard the offers from the Eagles for many months and decided to pass on multiple occasions. Then, on a Friday the week before the Draft, the Bills called and wanted to put the negotiation back on track. And, it appeared, a fast track. Within a couple of hours, the deal was made pending a contract negotiation with Peters that we worked on into the night, culminating with a signing in the corner of a busy restaurant with dozens of curious diners peering over.
With Peters, a stagnant negotiation took a dramatic and rapid turn towards a consummated deal. Perhaps it was due to something that happened in a meeting of the Bills front office that morning; perhaps it was due to a workout of a college player; perhaps it was due to a newfound confidence in a backup player behind Peters; perhaps a realization that the deal from the Eagles looked better than it had before; or it could have been countless other reasons. The point is that these deals can sit idle for days, weeks, or months before something works to change the dynamic and the action heats up quickly and purposefully.
Thus, the Eagles deal(s) on the table for one of their quarterbacks - and it may be for more than one of their quarterbacks - sits idle for now. But that is, as we know, for now. Things can stay the same or can - and have - change quickly.
As with everything, time will tell.