Well, this is interesting. ESPN's Michael Smith may have been the first to break the news from the nation's capital, and it's a stunner: The Washington Redskins and quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes) have agreed to a five-year contract extension that guarantees "Mac5" $40 million and could be worth as much as $88 million if the 33-year-old McNabb meets all the incentives in the deal. Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network has confirmed the deal and the amounts.
The extension, which takes McNabb through the 2015 season, is interesting from several perspectives. First of all, there's the obvious issue of Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan benching the veteran quarterback just two weeks ago in a loss to the Detroit Lions. Then, there are McNabb's current stats -- he's completing less than 60 percent of his passes for the first time since the 2006 season, he's thrown more picks (eight) than touchdowns (seven), and his current quarterback rating of 76.0 is the lowest he's posted since his rookie season of 1999. Granted, he's playing behind a subpar offensive line and trying to make this offense work without a receiver with anywhere near the talent of former targets DeSean Jackson(notes) and Jeremy Maclin(notes), but this deal still seems like an odd move for a team and a quarterback that have been at odds seemingly since the season began.
Shanahan's reasons for the McNabb benching don't indicate in any way, shape or form the kind of relationship between a coach and a franchise quarterback -- either his cardiovascular conditioning was below par, or he didn't know the offense, or his biorhythms were off that day. But for the Redskins to put together an offer like this so soon after the conflict makes one wonder just how much Shanahan was behind it, and how much it was the work of team owner Dan Snyder (who's never had trouble throwing money at a problem) and general manager Bruce Allen (who publicly said that he expected McNabb to be with the team for several years when the contract that is now signed was just a discussion point). It wouldn't make much sense for Snyder and Allen to go behind Shanahan's back and lock up his quarterback for the next five years, and it will be interesting to hear what Shanahan has to say about it.
Of course, this all happens as the Redskins get ready to face the Philadelphia Eagles (McNabb's former team) on "Monday Night Football." One interesting voice in this discussion will be broadcaster Jon Gruden, who worked with Allen in Oakland and Tampa Bay and should be able to give some insight into Allen's methodology. One thing's for sure -- this deal presents the Worldwide Leader with a built-in narrative that nobody could make up.