If Marc Bulger leaves Baltimore as a free agent this offseason to become a starter elsewhere, the Ravens will likely be in the market for another able veteran to back up fourth-year quarterback Joe Flacco. Might that veteran signal-caller be Donovan McNabb, who is on the outs in Washington?
Sure, it would take a few things to fall into place around the NFL -- and then Flacco and McNabb checking their egos at the locker room door -- but the possibility shouldn’t be ruled out.
The market for McNabb is reportedly drying up. The Titans and the Vikings, two teams who were desperate for quarterback help, selected Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, respectively, in the first round of last month’s NFL draft. The Bengals took Andy Dalton in the second round, and the 49ers say they are comfortable with Alex Smith keeping the huddle warm for Colin Kaepernick.
The Cardinals and the Bills are two quarterback-needy teams that didn’t use a draft pick at the position in the draft. But the Cardinals have been linked to both Bulger and Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb -- McNabb’s one-time successor -- and could acquire one once the lockout ends. The Bills will ride with Ryan Fitzpatrick (maybe so they can get a shot at Andrew Luck next year?).
So where does that leave McNabb, who had a well-publicized falling-out with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan?
For some reason, the Redskins are content with Rex Grossman and former Ravens third-stringer John Beck at quarterback, and they will try to shop McNabb and his contract when league business resumes. But if they don’t find a trading partner -- and right now, there is little buzz about McNabb -- they will be forced to cut the six-time Pro Bowler to unload his $70 million contract.
If that happens, there’s no doubt that the 34-year-old will be looking for an opportunity to compete for a starting job. But if no such opportunities exist, the Ravens could come calling.
With the championship window closing on players such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Matt Birk and Derrick Mason, the Ravens will be in win-now mode for at least another year. They thought they could win the Super Bowl last year, which is why they brought in Bulger to back up Flacco (and paid him more money than Flacco). Flacco has been durable, but they didn’t want to take any chances.
Bulger blended into the background so well, you might have forgotten he was there, and he used his one season here as a redshirt year to get healthy. He will have options should he choose to leave Baltimore (the Ravens would like to have him back).
Would McNabb, who has had more than his fair share of controversy during his fine career, be able to stand quietly on the sidelines for 16 games and watch another quarterback work? I have my doubts, especially if Flacco and the Ravens were to go through a rough patch. But from a talent standpoint, there might not be a better veteran option than McNabb on the market. Other potential free agents include Kerry Collins, Bruce Gradkowski, Tavaris Jackson, Drew Stanton, Seneca Wallace, Todd Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, and Chad Pennington.
I don’t know about you, but I’m taking McNabb out of that group, especially with the added bonus that he can mentor rookie QB Tyrod Taylor, whose skill set is more McNabb than Michael Vick.
And there is a connection there. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was on Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia for 10 years, though it’s unclear how tight he and McNabb were during that time.
Obviously, this is all speculative. Bulger would have to leave Baltimore and McNabb would have to run out of opportunities to start (interestingly enough, Bulger would eliminate one of those opportunities if he signs elsewhere). But don’t discount the possibility of McNabb backing up Flacco in 2011. After all, it was a stunner last season when the Ravens signed Bulger, wasn’t it?
What is your take on the possibility -- as slim as it may be -- of McNabb coming to Baltimore to back up Flacco?