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McNabb, Kolb trades shape 'D'

The Eagles' last playoff win came on January 11, 2009 against the New York Giants.

Donovan McNabb was the starting quarterback for 16 regular-season and three playoff games that season as the Birds snuck into the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record, advanced to the NFC championship game and eventually fell to the Arizona Cardinals.

McNabb's backup was Kevin Kolb, a second-year player who had attempted 34 passes and had to wait until the following season to make his first NFL start.

Now, a little more than three years later, McNabb is reportedly working with Warren Moon to make himself attractive to NFL teams. But retirement may be near for the 35 year old.

Kolb started only nine games in his first season with the Cardinals last year and is looking to prove that Arizona made a wise move in trading for him.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are counting on a number of players from the McNabb and Kolb trades to make an impact on this year's defense.

Let's start with the McNabb swap. The Eagles sent him to the Redskins on Easter Sunday in 2010 for a second-round pick in that year's draft, along with a conditional third- or fourth-rounder in 2011. With the second-round pick (37th overall), the Eagles selected safety Nate Allen. Allen's first two years have been marred by injuries and inconsistent play with flashes of production. He's slated to be a starter in 2012, but the Birds need him to put everything together in his third season.

The other pick ended up being a fourth-rounder (No. 104 overall) in 2011. But the Eagles traded that selection to the Bucs (who took Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker). In exchange, the Birds moved down 12 spots and selected linebacker Casey Matthews. They also received a fourth-round draft choice in 2012 from Tampa.

However, the Eagles didn't make the 2012 pick they got from the Bucs. Instead, they used it as the primary compensation to acquire middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans earlier this offseason. The two teams swapped third-round picks as well (Nos. 76 andd 88 overall).

So overall, for McNabb, the Eagles got Allen, Matthews and to a degree, Ryans. I mentioned expectations for Allen above. Matthews will get a chance to compete at WILL and nickel linebacker, while the Eagles are counting on Ryans to solidify the middle, which has been a constant problem.

As for Kolb, the Birds dealt him to the Cardinals in July of last year for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick. Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in the slot last year and will move back outside in 2012, which is the final year of his contract.

The second-round pick was No. 51 overall, but the Eagles traded back eight spots to No. 59 and took defensive end Vinny Curry. They also got a fourth-rounder from the Packers in the deal (No. 123 overall) and picked Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin. Boykin will get a chance right away to replace Joselio Hanson as the nickelback and be the team's kickoff returner. Curry will likely be a rotational pass rusher, who will have a chance to start in the future if he produces.

So overall, for Kolb, the Eagles got Rodgers-Cromartie, Curry and Boykin.

And for both quarterbacks, here's the total: Allen, Rodgers-Cromartie, Matthews, Curry, Boykin and to some degree, Ryans.

There have been other moves on defense along the way. Most notably, the signings of Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin, along with several draft picks. But in many ways, the players the Eagles received for Kolb and McNabb project to have a significant impact on the success of this defense in 2012.

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