Perfect partners for McNabb trade

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Howie Roseman has a problem. In his third month on the job, the young, ambitious general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles wants to make a name for himself by trading quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes), one of the most productive players in franchise history – and getting a sweet deal in return.

Now, having failed to command the copious bounty on which he has quietly insisted, Roseman is confronting a harsh reality: Some rival NFL executives view him as a shakedown artist and are prone to hitting “ignored” every time he rings their cell phones. And everyone in the world knows he’s desperate to dump McNabb, who at this point would have a very hard time feeling the brotherly love if he were to return to Philly.

Roseman was introduced as GM on Jan. 29.
(Mark Stehle/AP Photo)

What Roseman needs is a sucker to overpay for McNabb’s services.

In other words: Al Davis, please pick up the white courtesy telephone.

I’m not saying the Oakland Raiders will yield to the Eagles’ earlier demand for a first-round pick in exchange for McNabb – it’s far more plausible that Oakland will give up its second-round selection, the 39th overall pick, a move that would allow Roseman to save face. I like to think Davis isn’t foolish enough to part with star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), who has been rumored to be included in trade talks between the teams.

Yet if there’s a franchise out there that would reach to acquire a 33-year-old quarterback with one year (and $10 million) left on his contract – and who might cost another $20 million to franchise in 2011 if an extension couldn’t be worked out – it’s the one which recently earned the distinction of becoming the first NFL team to suffer seven consecutive seasons with 11 or more defeats.

If the Raiders, who deny being in talks with the Eagles, are smart (cue laugh track), they’ll sit back and make Roseman squirm and wait for Philly’s price to go down. While not as clumsy as the Broncos’ Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders were in their mishandling of the Jay Cutler(notes) situation a year ago, Roseman, coach Andy Reid and the Eagles’ other powerbrokers have made the mistake of alienating their most visible player before successfully engineering his exit, allowing an awkward situation to fester.

I’ll say this for McDaniels and Xanders: At least they salvaged the situation last April by landing a blockbuster package from the Bears in exchange for the then-25-year-old Cutler.

Similarly, Roseman is hoping for some silver-and-black salvation.

There’s a lot at stake for the 34-year-old lawyer who joined the Eagles a decade ago as a salary-cap specialist. Though the decision to trade McNabb was hardly his unilateral call – Reid has long been a staunch advocate for Kevin Kolb(notes) and pushed for the franchise to select the former Houston quarterback in the second round of the 2007 draft; certainly, the coach is on board with the timing of the succession plan – Roseman is the guy trying to prove to the rest of the league that he belongs.

He’s the newly called-up hotshot attempting to show that he can hit a big-league fastball, and he’s looking for the pitch he can hit out of the park, rather than simply trying to make contact.

Roseman’s rise reflects the changing power dynamic in the Eagles’ organization. Five years ago, when Philly was coming off a Super Bowl season (and four consecutive NFC championship game appearances), Reid was among the NFL’s most influential coaches. At the very least, he seemed to wield about the same degree of authority as team president Joe Banner, a longtime lieutenant of owner Jeffrey Lurie.

But the Eagles missed the playoffs in two of the next three seasons, and early in ’07 Reid took a month-long leave of absence to tend to legal issues involving two of his sons, each of whom faced drug charges in separate cases. At that point, according to sources familiar with the team’s front office, Banner became the unquestioned Big Cheese(steak), with Roseman, his protegé, getting increasingly involved in football-related matters.

Two offseasons ago Roseman, then the team’s vice president of football administration, prevailed in a power struggle over player personnel VP Jason Licht, a close ally of general manager Tom Heckert. Licht was fired and succeeded by Roseman, a clear sign to Heckert and Reid that their influence had waned.

Reid helped Licht land with the Cardinals (he has since joined the Patriots as their director of pro personnel) and, this past January, smoothed Heckert’s departure to Cleveland, where he became the Browns’ GM under newly hired team president Mike Holmgren, a close friend of Reid’s. Roseman took over for Heckert as Philly’s GM, just in time to start what was then a silent auction for McNabb.

If Roseman had been less demanding, league sources say, he might have been able to swing a trade before the team’s intentions became so conspicuous. Instead, Reid essentially announced to the football-watching universe at last week’s league meetings that he would field trade offers for McNabb after having insisted for months that the veteran quarterback would return for the 2010 season. Awkward.

Roseman, who prides himself on his business acumen, seems to be on a mission to prove how shrewd he is to his peers. So far, it’s not going over especially well. The Cardinals, sources say, backed out of early discussions for McNabb because Roseman’s demands were so exorbitant. Another team’s general manager said Roseman was similarly “unrealistic” when shopping disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown(notes) earlier this offseason.

“That’s where I think ego gets in the way,” the GM said. “Quite a few teams are quickly realizing that they don’t want to do business with Philly. With McNabb, I think [Roseman’s] trying to be too smart for his own good. Instead of trying to put a feather in his cap by walking way with a lopsided trade, which you rarely get in this league, he should try to get a legitimate deal done. In the long run, you don’t want to be known as the guy who wants to bamboozle people. I think they’re being unrealistic, and it’s putting them in a funky spot.”

At this point, the Eagles don’t have a lot of stellar options. They can wait until just before the draft, when teams are the most motivated to swing a deal and try to get whatever they can for McNabb; they can do nothing and go into the season with three quarterbacks (McNabb, Kolb and Michael Vick(notes)) whose contracts expire after 2010 and try to come up with a creative way to keep the situation from imploding; or they can pray for Davis to come to the rescue in all his delusional splendor.

Discussions about his future are nothing new for McNabb.
(Joseph Kaczmarek/AP Photo)

The latter scenario isn’t all that far-fetched, as odious as McNabb might regard it to be. Last September, Davis sent a first-round pick to the Patriots for Richard Seymour(notes), a soon-to-be-30-year-old defensive lineman with a history of knee problems and a season left on his contract. Seymour was so thrilled that he waited a week to report to Oakland. The Raiders retained his services for 2010 by applying the franchise tag.

Rather than trying to rebuild his flawed team through a series of sound, methodical moves, the 80-year-old Davis seems to be grasping for a quick fix that will allow him a redemptive taste of glory. Despite his deep investment, both financial and emotional, in quarterback JaMarcus Russell(notes), the No. 1 overall pick of the ’07 draft, Davis might be tempted to entrust his anemic offense to McNabb, a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

If Davis gives up a premium pick – or Asomugha, a 28-year-old shutdown corner – to keep the dream alive, it will be a move that reeks of desperation. In that sense, he and Roseman are perfect trade partners.

As another Bay Area icon, Jerry Garcia, once sang one man gathers what another man spills.


Michael, I read your articles on a regular basis and enjoy your commentary, insight, and opinions. I agree with you most of the time. When I saw your article (Tuesday) on Tim Tebow I said to myself “No, Michael, please not you!” Every minute of every day it is Tebow this and Tebow that. It is complete overkill. His pro day is coming up, he is projected here in the draft, such and such said this about him, he has changed his throwing motion, he ran a whatever 40. On and on. Will he be a good NFL QB? Blah, blah, blah … I am so sick of hearing about this guy, especially when there are a lot of other great college players that are entering the draft and it would be nice to get some insight and commentary on them. I was hoping that you wouldn’t give this guy any more press but I was wrong. You were my last hope.

Irvine, Calif.

Let me go out on a limb here and surmise that, when I finally succumb to my first “Will Brett Favre(notes) return to the Vikings” column of the offseason, you’ll be similarly crestfallen.

I’ll say it again. I’m stoked to see the long form “Trippin’ ” section back!! So, as an avowed progressive left-wing Southern nut, I’d like to say I can’t stand Tim Tebow. I feel a bit of guilt, at the glee that I have enjoyed, as I’ve watched the scouts tear down the new Messianic figure from Florida. Tears and speeches give him the “it” factor. I’d say it’s more like the (expletive) factor, but having said all this, I have to admit he is probably going to have a successful professional career. He really has tightened up his mechanics, and he is an incredible athlete. What a bummer! He’ll probably end up as the governor of Florida one day where he can put his Evangelical beliefs to work. Ah well, to quote the late Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

Chapel Hill, N.C.

In fairness, Tebow’s mechanics are a lot less flawed than those associated with Florida elections. Not that I’m still bitter about the butterfly ballot and hanging chads or anything …

“Former NFL assistant impressed by Tebow.” And you fail to ask the question, “Why isn’t he a current NFL anything (assistant, coach, GM, etc.)?” In his résumé, Trestman has had a fair amount of success (unless you want to give him the credit and not the HOF player, in which case he’s had tremendous success). The successes you listed include no responsibility for player evaluation.

Brian Niemeyer

OK, I will ask the question, and then I will answer it. Mike, why isn’t Marc Trestman a current NFL anything? Gee, Mike, glad you asked. The reasons are that Trestman is extremely happy in his current gig (partly because he gets to spend a lot of the offseason at home in North Carolina); his owner, understandably, has a “hands off the merchandise” mentality when it comes to NFL suitors; and neither the Raiders nor Bills came hard after him as a potential head coach, though there was talk of doing so within both organizations a few months ago.

I think the GM you spoke of here points out something that is overlooked. If Tim is for real, then many GMs and coaches in the league are simply afraid that he is a bigger or better man than they are. How are these guys going to be able to look into the eyes of a man who can make them question their own integrity, values and work ethic? I think some of them are scared of that.

Lance Baumgartner
Lenexa, Kan.

Um, that’s one way of looking at it. Or, perhaps, there are people out there who would prefer that their team’s quarterback focus less on telling everyone in the world how to live his/her life (from a morally righteous perspective) and more on putting his head down and doing his job. From what I can tell, Tebow seems like a hard-working young man with integrity and good values. I respect whatever decisions he makes as far as his personal life; I’m not completely sure he would do the same for me.

Guess what, (Chad) Henne is right. Tebow is not an NFL-caliber quaterback. Something else Henne said in which you failed to report: you are not a professional-caliber writer. More like middle-school hack. But I digress from the story – Tim Tebow is not an NFL-caliber QB!

J. Cipale
Vancouver, Wash.

That’s a clever writing device, Sparky – putting words into Henne’s mouth in order to rip the columnist. It’s far from an amateur hack skill, though spelling “quarterback” correctly (in an email about someone who plays that position) is something most middle-schoolers have certainly mastered. So I’ll help you out here: A really advanced move would have been to make up a Henne quote dissing my ability to drive in a fuel-efficient manner. Class dismissed.

Mike, as far as the criticisms of Tebow are concerned (that you wrote about), as a Florida student, there is one nuance you forgot to mention with one of the critics: Chad Henne(notes) faced Tebow and Florida in the Capital One Bowl game after Tebow’s Heisman-winning season, and the former’s team beat the latter. For that reason, I don’t think Henne’s criticism is completely unbiased.

Vincent G.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Tebow lost a game in college? What’d I miss?

I’ve been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys for most of my life. However, I am also a believer in Tim Tebow. I think that much of the criticism levied against Tebow has been fair, but some of it has been downright nasty. He reminds me of a faster, stronger and more dedicated version of Steve Young. I have never liked the 49ers; however, if they were to draft Tebow, I think that I would buy season tickets to the new stadium in Santa Clara.

Nayeli Puentes
Palo Alto, Calif.

A faster, stronger Steve Young? I hate to break it to you, but if NFL scouts felt Tebow came anywhere close to that description, he’d be the slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick, and Al Davis would hire Mike Ditka to offer the Raiders’ entire draft in a trade to the Rams. For what it’s worth, the college quarterback who I think will remind NFL teams of Young is a dude named Jake Locker, and Washington is thankful to have him for one more season.

I will first state that I understand Tom Brady(notes) didn’t win a Heisman Trophy or national championships while at Michigan; however, like your article on Tim Tebow, Brady was placed in a great environment for him to learn and be mentored and now he is in talks of being one of the elite quarterbacks in the league today. My question is, can one predict how quarterbacks will perform in professional (football) despite a successful collegiate career? Peyton Manning(notes) was expected to be good, and he is. Ryan Leaf, well … enough said.

Winder, Ga.

I’m not sure how much you’ve been paying attention in the 12 years since the Manning-Leaf draft, but no, it is not easy (even for NFL general managers and scouts) to predict which standout collegiate passers will kill it in the pros. For every Matt Ryan(notes), there’s a David Carr(notes). For every Philip Rivers(notes), there’s a JaMarcus Russell. For every Vince Young(notes) (first and third incarnations), there’s a Vince Young (second incarnation). Yes, as you suggest, the environment in which these passers are placed has a lot to do with how they fare. And for the record, Brady was a backup to Brian Griese(notes) for the national champion Michigan Wolverines in 1997.

I’m fly … cuz you’re not: St. Mary’s Gaels basketball.

Rick Q.
Arcata, Calif.

Much respect to the Gaels for their stirring Sweet 16 run. That other East Bay team, my Golden Bears, fell a game short of matching that feat, but ending their half-century-long conference-title drought made it a very special season.

Can you please get Yahoo! to put the name of the country that ballplayers come from in their profile. It is very irritating to click on someone like Carlos Gomez and see he is from Santiago. Chile? DR? Far worse are the players who hail from small towns like La Sabana. There are five towns with that name in Venezuela alone. Go Brewers.

Mike Nelson
Hong Kong

I’ll get right on it. Or not. But I wouldn’t mind putting J. Cipale from Vancouver, Wash., on the case.

Nice job with the drive for Type I diabetes challenge! May your speedometer be consistent and large semis clear you a path.

Scott A.
Juda, Wisc.

Thanks. Though I didn’t win, I haven’t stopped trying to raise money for the Type 1 diabetes-related charities I designated, and I’ll have more news about this Friday in The Gameface.

Long-time reader and fan. I fully agree with your assessment of the Roethlisberger situation and I think your position should be extended to cover all people who are accused of crimes. Suspend judgment until the jury has spoken. That’s why we have a court system (as screwed up as it can be). High-profile people, especially, have to walk a narrow, precarious line, as everything they do has the potential to be magnified a thousand-fold (Tiger Woods, for example). Too often it seems they aren’t allowed to be human in the eyes of the general public, and become piñatas for the drooling media who use their pens (“laptop” doesn’t work with my metaphor here) to bash the guts out of the perceived guilty. As someone who was falsely accused of a crime myself (and subsequently – through considerable struggle – exonerated), I can only imagine how much worse it would have been for me had I been famous. Thanks for bringing back “Trippin’ on E(mail).” You must have developed quite a thick skin to be able to put up with some of the horrible bashing you get (and don’t at all deserve). I guess posting some of those emails is one way of getting through it, considering that you’re simply displaying their idiocy for all to see. You almost don’t have to respond.

Damien Sebouhian
Willits, Calif.

Thanks, and you should see some of the emails I DON’T post. And I agree – it’s often tempting not to respond. Unfortunately, as my wife can certainly attest, I lack the willpower to resist the impulse to do so.

Michael Silver covers the NFL for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Mogotxt, Twitter and Facebook. Also check out Send Michael a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010