Monday, January 07, 2008

Solving Our Problems: Donovan McNabb

[Solving Our Problems is an ongoing series here at the Ragnarok where I evaluate the Vikings' options going into the offseason. I've started by looking at the quarterback options, starting with Derek Anderson and now Donovan McNabb.]

Now this, this, is the big name guy the Vikings have been missing at quarterback since Daunte Culpepper blew his knee out in 2005. He's not a third year quarterback that's had one good year, like Derek Anderson. He's not a second year quarterback that's gone back and forth between "good" and "oh my God awful". He has nine years of experience in the Vikings offense, knows Brad Childress well, has gone to multiple Pro Bowls, led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX and was on the cover of Madden. Donovan McNabb seems to be everything the Vikings could ever want. There are just a few small, minor details that might prevent McNabb and Kluwe from having to fight over #5 and usual, those details will most likely be the difference.

The first detail is the question of whether he's actually available. The Eagles are on record saying that they will not be trading McNabb. Which, honestly, could mean anything. The Eagles did pick their next franchise quarterback, Kevin Kolb, in last year's draft, but he hasn't even in thrown a pass in a game yet. Considering the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs prior to the end of the season, one would think that they would have gotten Kolb some playing time if they actually were considering trading McNabb and going with their younger "franchise quarterback", but they didn't.

Secondly, there's the question of what it would cost to get McNabb. If the asking price for Derek Anderson is a first and a third round pick, what does that do to the asking price for McNabb, especially if the Eagles aren't hellbent on trading him? The Vikings won't be the only team pursuing McNabb either--da Bears want him just as badly as the Vikings. That's not exactly going to drive down the Eagle's asking price.

So, say the Vikings are able to get McNabb for a first and a third round pick (roughly what the Browns are asking for Anderson). Is he worth it? He'll be turning 32 next season and has 9 years of experience. He has a career Quarterback Rating of 85.8 and just finished up a season where he posted a QB rating of 89.9 (9th overall) by completing 61.5% of his passes (20th) for 3324 yards (13th), 19 TDs (14th) and only 7 interceptions. He had four games with a QB rating over 100, including a perfect 158.3 against the Lions. He was sacked 44 times, which, oddly enough, wasn't his career high (he was sacked 45 times in 2000), but he also rushed for 236 yards on 50 carries. Looking at the more advanced stats shows us that McNabb also had an impressive season. He averaged almost 6 yards per attempt, with a 52.5 DPAR (14th) and 9.9% DVOA (19th). There are injury concerns. He missed two games this year with thumb and ankle injuries and is only a season removed from knee surgery, which he was still feeling the effects of this year. By all accounts, his mobility didn't come back until the last few games of the year, something that his stats back up, as he gained 166 of his 236 rushing yards (70%) in his last five games.

So would he be worth a 1st and a 3rd round pick (remember, the Vikings have two 3rd round picks this year)? I'd say yes, despite the injury concerns. McNabb would give the Purple a passing game by himself, something he's done almost every year he's been with the Eagles. And acquiring him wouldn't mean the end of the Tarvaris Revolution, as he could serve as McNabb's backup, fill in for him when McNabb gets hurt and learn from him for two years. Honestly, it'd be an ideal situation for the Purple. The only problem is that there's no way that they'll be able to get McNabb for that. I'd be surprised if he's available at all, seeing as how the Eagles are one of the most conservative franchises in the NFL and seem to be convinced that the main reason they missed the playoffs was because McNabb was still recovering from his knee injury at the beginning of the season, when they started 1-3. They didn't even give Kolb a test run after they were eliminated, a decision that doesn't jibe with a willingness to trade McNabb. So even if he is available, I just don't see him being available for a reasonable price. And while I'd love to have McNabb in Purple, he isn't worth a Herschel Walker "mortgage the future" style trade, which is probably the only way to get him. It was a nice thought though.

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