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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

December 18, 2007
Lou Pickney,

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As is usual in the NFL, there aren't many high-output quarterbacks that will be available this off-season. But there are two in the possible trade mix who could have a drastic impact on the league, not to mention the draft.

The first is Donovan McNabb. He remains under contract in Philadelphia, and while there is rampant speculation going on about him possibly being traded this off-season, there is nothing to guarantee that a team will be able to land him. Philly could opt to keep him.

Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb is the subject of trade rumors. (Tom Briglia/Icon SMI)

But quite often in the NFL, the "smoke means fire" mantra holds true. In this case it's hard to get a read on it, as the Eagles aren't about to tip their hand as far as their interest is in trading McNabb. But the signs are there for a trade to happen. Consider the following:

-Philly used a 2007 second round pick on a QB (Kevin Kolb).
-McNabb was knocked out of action with injuries the past two seasons, and the backups (Jeff Garcia last year and A.J. Feeley this year) have looked great in his absence.
-McNabb is 31 years old and will turn 32 during next season.

There is no question that McNabb has had some outstanding seasons for the Eagles, taking the team to the Super Bowl in January 2005 and to multiple NFC championship games. But there are signs there that he might end up elsewhere in the off-season, and then there's the Pam Oliver vs. Donovan McNabb incident where Oliver reported that McNabb told her that he "seems to believe that his days in Philadelphia are numbered" and McNabb then denied saying that.

Derek Anderson
Derek Anderson has found success in Cleveland in 2007. (Icon SMI)
The other major quarterback is Derek Anderson. My friend Adam was livid that Anderson didn't make the Pro Bowl, though it's a challenging case to say he belongs in over Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger. He is a restricted free agent for the Browns this upcoming off-season, though Phil Savage said last month that he will be use the highest possible contract tender ($2.562 million), which would give the Browns a first and third round draft pick from any team that takes him as per NFL rules. It's possible that a team like Minnesota or Chicago will decide to make a play for Anderson, even if it means giving up a first and a third to land him, not to mention the large contract he would earn.

Remember, the Bears have an extra third round pick thanks to the Eric Weddle trade last year, and you'd think that a cold-weather team that still has most of the pieces from last year's Super Bowl team would prefer to land a proven guy like Anderson rather than train a new guy while Brian Griese and Kyle Orton keep the seat warm.

If Cleveland makes the playoffs (which looks like a good possibility at this point), it will put Phil Savage in a pinch: should the Browns sign Anderson to a large deal, even with Brady Quinn on the team, or should they take their chances with him as a restricted free agent and then reassess things at some point next year if he's not stolen away? Yes, Cleveland could match any offer made, but the dreaded poison pill (which was mysteriously not used by any teams last off-season after it caused bad blood between Minnesota and Seattle in 2006) could come into a play with a guy like Anderson.

For those of you not privy to the lingo, a poison pill is a provision that severely hurts the matching team. In the past it referred to a steep salary or huge signing bonus, but in recent times it has evolved to mean a provision aimed at a specific team. Something like "if Anderson plays in three games in Cleveland in 2008, the entirety of his contract becomes guaranteed." For Baltimore or anyone else, that's no problem, but for the Browns that's a major problem.

If Anderson is stolen away, the Browns have the fallback of Brady Quinn taking the starting job, along with the two picks. The Browns traded their 2008 first round pick to Dallas to land Brady Quinn, and I'd think that getting a first (and a third) rounder for Anderson would be better than they might be able to land on the trade block for him.

There aren't many quarterbacks facing unrestricted free agency who will draw major interest on the open market. While Rex Grossman and Quinn Gray and Daunte Culpepper will all likely find interest from teams, it will most likely be in a backup capacity.

Some teams to watch in the QB mix:
Dolphins - One figures that John Beck is the future there, and if Bill Parcells comes on board he'll do his best to bring in a winning team to surround Beck with.
Jets - Kellen Clemens looks to be the guy being built around at QB, which means Chad Pennington will likely be traded away or perhaps outright cut.
Ravens - Steve McNair is aging (and falling apart), Kyle Boller has been inconsistent at best, and Troy Smith is still too unproven to know about for sure. They might be a team willing to pay big money to get Derek Anderson, with the "sticking it to Cleveland" factor perhaps being an extra incentive.
Chiefs - The team looks to have Brodie Croyle in its long-term plans, but they could get into the mix, possibly in the draft as opposed to going for a big-name trade. If any of the "Big Three" (Ryan, Woodson, and Brohm) are on the board when they pick, it wouldn't shock me if Kansas City took one of them.
Bears - They look to be an impact player in one way or another, either via the draft or in going after McNabb and/or Anderson.
Panthers - My gut tells me that Jake Delhomme will get one more season, but it's not impossible to think that the Panthers might make a move at a QB in the draft. If not in the first round, perhaps a guy like Colt Brennan in round two?
Falcons - Perhaps the most likely team in the league to use a first round pick on a QB, it's time for the team to draft a guy with the thought of him become the starter in 2009. All indications out of Atlanta to this point has been that we'll see that happen.
Bucs - Jeff Garcia is no youngster, the backup situation has been a carousel, and Chris Simms just hasn't worked out for them ever since he lost his spleen.


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