It makes sense that the Eagles might agree to at least guarantee some of the more than $19 million they are scheduled to pay Donovan McNabb over the next 2 years, and perhaps even boost that total .
NFL Players Association figures released at the start of the offseason pegged McNabb as the 10th-highest-paid quarterback heading into 2009. (The group ahead of him included Brett Favre, at $12 million, but Favre has since retired again.) McNabb is scheduled to make $9,353,912 this season, slightly less than Jacksonville's David Garrard ($9,475,000).
So Derrick Gunn's report last night on Comcast SportsNet would seem plausible - the report cited a league source saying talks aimed at a McNabb extension have been shelved to concentrate on reworking the 2 remaining years on the current deal. An extension is thorny for several reasons - the collective bargaining agreement is up; there might not be a salary cap in 2010; nobody knows what the next CBA will look like; and the Eagles have Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings, with a contract that expires in 2 years, just like McNabb's.
While the Eagles might not be ready to commit to McNabb at a huge figure beyond 2010, they certainly expect him to start (and, they hope, lead them to the Super Bowl) this season. If McNabb stays healthy and the offense is productive, there's no reason to think that won't be the case in 2010, as well.
Clearly, the contract McNabb signed in 2002 is outdated, even more than the deal disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown signed 2 years later. (And McNabb has half the time remaining on his deal that Brown does, since the rest of McNabb's reported 12-year deal voids if he is on the roster at the end of 2010.)
In 2002, the widespread assumption was that the Birds would have to do another deal with McNabb toward the end of the contract, because no team would want $10 million in annual cap charges, as the deal called for in 2009 and 2010. The 2002 salary cap was only $71 million. But the 2009 cap is $127 million, and the Birds can easily absorb McNabb's cap figure. They seem to have about $24 million in cap room.
When McNabb, 32, bounced back from being benched last season and led the Eagles first to the playoffs, then to the NFC Championship Game, there were signals from management that his concerns over his contract would be addressed. Those signals got crossed in the controversy over who had sat down with whom, when, and what was discussed. It seemed clear 3 months ago that the initial discussions toward an extension hadn't gone well. That was when ESPN.com's Michael Smith reported that McNabb would wait to assess the Eagles' offseason before deciding whether to sign an extension with the team that drafted him second overall in 1999.
No more has been heard on that topic. McNabb has declined to make himself available during minicamps, where he traditionally has held news conferences. The Eagles have said they will not comment on McNabb's contract situation, and they stuck to that stance last night, when asked to respond to the Comcast report. McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, did not respond to a request for comment.
McNabb's silence is more understandable, if negotiations are continuing. *