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With McNabb In Washington, A Look At the Quarterbacks


Three's a crowd.

With the addition of Donovan McNabb via trade on Sunday, the Redskins created a bit of a packed house in their quarterbacks meeting room.

McNabb. Rex Grossman. Jason Campbell. All have started, the first two in Super Bowls for other clubs.

The first two were acquired under the auspices of head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen. Campbell is the holdover from the past, the unsigned restricted free agent, the quarterback chosen by a different regime.

What a weird dynamic.

A year ago, the Redskins phoned around trying to trade Campbell in order to move up in the NFL draft and chase either Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez. They couldn't move him at their asking price. Campbell maintained his dignity and soldiered on as the Redskins quarterback.

Now this. With McNabb.

The only thing McNabb has not given to the Philadelphia franchise over a career that began in 1999 is that elusive NFL title. Five conference championship games, a Super Bowl appearance, six Pro Bowl bids. The Eagles accepted calls, made calls and put an end to the McNabb era, shipping him to a division rival.

"You can't erase the last 11 years," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Sunday night. "We had 11 great years together."

McNabb was the first No. 1 pick the Eagles made when they hired Reid as their coach. They're not exactly sentimental. They walk away from players when they feel the time has come -- Jeremiah Trotter, Bobby Taylor, Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins. Now McNabb.

"He understands the business," Reid said. "I'm not trying to sugarcoat this. I know it's tough for him."

When Grossman signed, he talked of wanting to start again in this league. He knows the offense, having played in it with the Houston Texans a year ago under Kyle Shanahan, now the Redskins' offensive coordinator. He was available and the Redskins went and got him.

When the Eagles confirmed at the NFL meetings two weeks ago that they'd listen to pitches for any of their three quarterbacks – McNabb, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb – everyone knew who was really up for grabs.

Kolb is their guy of the future. Vick draws almost no interest. McNabb, at 33 and, like the other two in the final year of his contract, no longer figured in Philly as the Eagles began making trades and piling up draft choices.

They'll get the Redskins' No. 2 pick this month (37th overall) and another choice in either the third or fourth round in next year's draft.

The Redskins? Well, they get a quarterback who has been starting and excelling in the NFL since the last century. He'd hoped to finish his career where it began but so did Joe Montana. Bumped out of San Francisco by the younger Steve Young, Montana led Kansas City to the playoffs in a two-year stint.

Maybe McNabb is simply the bridge to the next guy. Maybe he has three or four good seasons left in him and quarterback stops being an issue for the Redskins in the short term. Maybe the Redskins aren't done making deals yet.

Plenty of teams need a quarterback. Oakland and Buffalo pursued McNabb, but his agent said McNabb did want to go to either place. St. Louis, which holds the overall No. 1 pick, considered McNabb but has the best shot at Sam Bradford.

Perhaps one or the other will call the Redskins if their dreams and desires don't pan out in the draft.

In consideration of his long-time player, Reid said, the club was willing to trade McNabb in the division. That's a bit unusual and no doubt McNabb will relish the two annual meetings with the Eagles.

"You can't say we didn't think about that," Reid said. "We did. We wanted to what was best for Donovan and the compensation was right."

This is the NFL. Teams move on. They've either seen enough or spent enough or believe the Next Great Thing resides on their roster. And so they move a player who becomes the Next Great Thing elsewhere. Elsewhere, in this case, being Washington.

"Are they a better football team with Donovan? Absolutely," Reid said.

Mike Shanahan promised competition at all positions. He just made life really fascinating on his football team's highest-profile position. Traffic is a way of life in Washington and now there's congestion on the way to the quarterbacks meeting room.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at and follow him on

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