After being told last month that the Eagles would not deal him to NFC East-rival Washington, McNabb essentially forced Philadelphia's hand by refusing to talk with any of the other teams that had expressed interest in recent weeks. In the process, McNabb can now take out his simmering anger on the Eagles' front office that essentially forced him out of a city where he had played his entire career.
"Frankly, I'm a little shocked," a source close to McNabb said. "I never thought [the Eagles would] do this. Never. But, yeah, this is the same thing that happened last year."
That's a reference to when McNabb leveraged the Eagles to give him a "financial apology" after he had been benched in Week 12 of the 2008 season during a blowout loss to Baltimore. This time, McNabb won a stare-down with Eagles president Joe Banner and right-hand man Howie Roseman.
A stare-down that could come back to haunt the Eagles if they're not right about new starter Kevin Kolb(notes), who is going into his fourth season but remains largely untested. If Kolb fails and McNabb, who is going to play in a similar system under strong offensive head coach Mike Shanahan, makes the Redskins a consistent contender over the next three to four years, the results could undermine what has been one of the league's most consistent front offices.
McNabb, who is in the final year of his deal, made this happen by making it clear he wasn't going anywhere else but Washington. When the Buffalo Bills expressed interest – and even were willing to give McNabb a contract extension – he passed on the offer. When the Oakland Raiders sniffed around and showed willingness to trade for the quarterback without an extension, McNabb indicated to the Eagles through his associates that he'd retire.
"He has plenty of money," the source close to McNabb said. "He's not doing anything he doesn't want to do."
For the past two weeks, the Eagles had hoped McNabb's resolve would thaw. He refused to budge, even telling the Eagles he'd be glad to return to the team even though he knew full well Philadelphia wanted no part of the season-long distraction his presence would create. What the Eagles wanted more than anything was to clear the way for Kolb to start and, in the process, sign him to a contract extension at a more favorable price. Kolb also quietly has been forcing the issue by making it clear that if he's not the starter by this season, he wouldn't sign an extension. Kolb's contract is set to expire at the end of this season, meaning the Eagles would have had to put a high tender on him after this season to keep him.
While the Eagles may have paved the way for a new Kolb deal, Banner and Roseman could be paving the road for their dismissal if this doesn't work. This could be a tipping point in determining who really runs the Eagles. Coach Andy Reid called the shots on the roster, until most recently, when that power increasingly shifted to Banner, a clever contract negotiator who has become expert in locking up players to long-term deals and keeping the Eagles competitive.
The problem is that Banner's semi-Moneyball techniques haven't produced a championship. Neither has McNabb, but he has gotten the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. Was that success more McNabb or Banner?
Reid believed it was McNabb and had voiced his desire for the Eagles to keep him, even if it cost them Kolb. "Andy thinks Kolb is going to be really good, maybe great. But he knows Donovan is great and probably will be for three or four years," said a source close to Reid.
Now teamed with Shanahan, a brilliant playcaller, McNabb could exact some serious payback from the Eagles. It would be sweet justice for McNabb, who never has felt respected in Philadelphia.
"Not from Day 1," the source close to the quarterback said, referring to when Eagles fans booed when McNabb was selected instead of Ricky Williams(notes) in 1998. "Never, and after a while you get tired of it. He's put up with this for his whole career. They never gave him real weapons until now with those guys [wide receivers Jeremy Maclin(notes) and DeSean Jackson(notes)]. He took them to how many title games with a bunch of stiffs at [wide] receiver?"
While the Redskins don't feature a bunch of stars at wide receiver or running back and are rebuilding their offensive line, they have the No. 4 overall draft pick. They also have Shanahan.
Not a bad situation if you're McNabb.