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Did Donovan "Earn" Raise?

That's what the Eagles said on Friday after giving Donovan McNabb approximately a $6 million bump in pay over the next two seasons, taking his potential earnings through 2010 from the nice neighborhood of $19 million to the incrementally nicer neighborhood of about $25 million.

Hey, it's their money and they can spend it as they please, even if the raise comes after a brief offseason spell during which the front office grumbled in the background and talked tough about holding the line on players with multiple seasons remaining on their contracts.

Quarterbacks are different, though, and Donovan is different even by quarterback standards. He's a little goofy, talks in circles, pouts on occasion, all of that, but he still represents the shortest distance at his position for the Eagles to reach a Super Bowl. Coming off a season in which he remained healthy and just missed the first 4,000-yard season of his career -- would have had it except for that 30 minutes of rest in Baltimore -- they had no intention of replacing him. And, in order to make things smoother, they had to give some money so it could appear he won the battle of wills. Who says he can't win the big one?

So, McNabb gets to save face, the Eagles get a happy quarterback and there's not much to see here. Some players have leverage, some don't, and you can ask Sheldon Brown about that if you like.

But, returning to the original question, did McNabb "earn" the raise. The organization said on Friday that over the course of his contract McNabb's earnings, compared to other QBs, has slipped from the top of the list to somewhere around 10th on the list. The raise put him back among the top three or four best-paid quarterbacks in the league.

Last season, McNabb's passer rating was tied for 14th in the NFL. His completion percentage was 18th. His TD percentage was 12th. The average gain on his passes ranked 19th. He threw 11 interceptions, and it has been seven seasons since he threw more than that.

He did operate without a reliable running game for much of the season, and with an offensive line that held together but just barely. Given the number of balls he threw -- a career-high 571 -- his interception percentage was still good. He got the team to the NFC championship game, won it once, but couldn't win it again after the defense gave the game away. Pretty good effort.

But was it the performance of one of the best three or four quarterbacks in the league? The Eagles either think so, or have to say they think so as a price of doing business. It's their money, but it would be nice if you could trust their explanation for why they spent it.