I've had a week or so now to talk to people and filter through the particulars of Donovan McNabb's contract revision.
Here are a few things I've heard from various people involved in the process, and some things I've deduced:
1. We all remarked on how often McNabb referenced the next two years in his remarks last Friday. As we've reported since then, the way the money breaks down, it's still possible the Eagles could part with McNabb after 2009 -- though if they do that, they will have paid him $15.5 million for one season of work, counting the $3.5 million guarantee for 2010. Hard to imagine that happening if 2009 is reasonably successful, playoff season. Right now, I see no reason to think McNabb has to win the Super Bowl this season to get a second year, with so much youth around him. Obviously, it's hard to envision the exact circumstances of the way the season might end -- if McNabb throws six interceptions in a playoff game, or something, it could all look different.
2. The real significance of the two years, and the fact that McNabb's existing deal was not extended, might lie in the fact that somebody else's contract expires in two years. Kevin Kolb? Yes, but that isn't the big one. Andy Reid, who this season will become the first man to coach the Eagles for 11 seasons, adding to his array of Eagles coaching records, is not signed past 2010. Reid and McNabb came in together, more or less, in 1999. It might well be that McNabb wants to see what happens with Reid before he commits beyond two seasons. And of course, as we've surmised previously, maybe the Eagles aren't sure they want to commit to McNabb beyond 2010. So the nonextension could serve both parties' mindsets. Kind of interesting, though, that Reid hasn't been extended again by now. The last time the coach's contract was addressed, just before the 2004 Super Bowl season, he had three years remaining on his deal, and it was extended through 2010, which at the time seemed like forever. Now, not so much. Is the coach in a mode where he's going to press hard for that elusive Lombardi these next two seasons, then hang it up?
3. There was some head-scratching over McNabb's demeanor at last Friday's press conference. He didn't seem overjoyed. He had mild praise for the offseason offensive additions, but overall, wasn't bursting with enthusiasm; more than anything else, he was defensive. I've since heard that this wariness had more to do with McNabb's antipathy toward some media factions than with any dissatisfaction with his situation or his deal. The lingering question from early in the offseason, when McNabb supposedly wanted to evaluate what the team did before commiting to stay here, has been answered in a resoundingly positive manner, I am told. Sources say DMac is very excited about what the Birds have done.