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McNabb benched; Eagles trade implications

The Redskins are going with Rex Grossman instead of Donovan McNabb this weekend. Here's my take on the move and a look at Eagles trade implications.

At just about this time last year, Donovan McNabb was coming off one of his better games of the 2009 season.

He completed 17 of 26 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, helping lead the Eagles to a 45-38 win over the Giants in Week 14.

It looked like the Birds were set up for a deep playoff run. They had won four in a row and would go on to extend that streak to six.

But after two losses to the Cowboys, an offseason trade and an extremely bizarre 13-game stretch in 2010, McNabb is out of a starting job. Not only that, but he's being replaced by Rex Grossman.

The news was broken today by Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet and later confirmed by Jason La Canfora of NFL Network. Grossman will start for the 'Skins when they take on the Cowboys this weekend. Per La Canfora, the decision has been made by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Redskins players do not agree with it.

McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, is none too pleased either.

"I almost don't even know where to begin, but it really started with Detroit and it was just wrong the way Donovan was treated," Smith told Jason Reid of The Washington Post. "Just the way Mike handled the whole situation in Detroit, and in almost every instance since that time, and this is, I guess, the culmination of that. I think it's ... again, it's beyond disrespectful."

As I mentioned yesterday, if the Eagles lose to the Giants this week, they'll be rooting hard for the Redskins to beat New York in Week 17. That game could potentially decide the NFC East.

There's another Eagles angle to visit also. When the trade was made in the spring, there were provisions in place to determine what pick the Birds would receive this year from Washington.

It would be a third-rounder if one of two things happened:

1. McNabb was selected to the Pro Bowl.
2. The Redskins won nine games, and McNabb played at least 70 percent of the snaps.

Neither of those two things are happening. The Redskins lost their eighth game of the season last week. And McNabb's not going to be on the Pro Bowl roster.

So the Eagles will instead receive a fourth-round pick.

His future is as uncertain as ever. Despite the contract extension awarded to him last month, McNabb could still be released after the season, and the Redskins would only be on the hook for $3.5M.

"What does the future hold? Well, without talking to him, I can't answer that question at this time," Smith told Reid. "Obviously, we're going to have to sit down and digest the season at season's end. And we will, in due time, come to a decision.

"But at the end of the day, he has to live there [in Washington], he has to play there. And the decision, at the end of the day, is ultimately his. I can't answer that question on his behalf. But from my standpoint, I'm certainly not happy with what has transpired. If that is his decision, we're absolutely not happy with Mike's treatment or handling of Donovan. In this situation and in a lot of situations this season."

The other aspect to look at here is the coaching staff. Has Mike Shanahan showed a single sign in D.C. that he's got the Redskins going in the right direction? I haven't seen one. That franchise is as dysfunctional as ever.

Of course, Shanahan was signed to a five-year deal last year, worth approximately $7M per season. So the Redskins are far more likely to cut ties with McNabb and give Shanahan another chance to right the ship.

But let's not forget, the Redskins acquired McNabb after Shanahan was the coach. So I'm not sure how he gets away with assuming anything but full responsibility for this mess.

Update: Shanahan told reporters that McNabb would not even be the backup this week. That would be John Beck. McNabb will be the third-stringer. In addition, Shanahan said he could not guarantee that McNabb would be back with the team in 2011.

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