Raiders Gambling with McNabb

The Raiders and Eagles are reportedly close to a deal that would send Donovan McNabb to Oakland. While McNabb would be a considerable upgrade at quarterback for the Raiders and give them a better shot at the division title this year, his future beyond 2010 is uncertain.

It's been almost a week since the Donovan McNabb trade speculation really caught fire, but it's beginning to look like those rumors will be substantiated in the Bay Area.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Monday that the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles were close to a deal and that a trade sending McNabb to Oakland was imminent.

Since the McNabb-trade rumors began, the Raiders have always been at or near the top of possible destinations. The Bills, Rams, and Vikings were all once rumored (and might still be in play), but it's looking like Oakland will be McNabb's destination for at least one year.

The Eagles' reported asking price is a top 42 pick, and the Raiders' second rounder (39th overall) just might be enough for the deal to work. There was also talk that the Raiders would said Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to Philadelphia and receive Asante Samuel as part of the deal.

If this trade goes through as many are saying it will, McNabb would be the clear starter at quarterback. It was obvious that the Raiders were not content with a trio of Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, and Charlie Frye as they also inquired with the Vikings about Sage Rosenfels, but McNabb is a clear cut above the current pack and would be the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon during the early 2000's.

Although the move would give the Raiders a remarkably better shot at the upcoming season, it's a huge gamble because McNabb is in the final year of his contract. McNabb, like Richard Seymour last offseason, might put up somewhat of a fight before he joins the Raiders, and at 33-years old, McNabb is looking to join a contender, not a rebuilding project, so it might be a while before he warms up to the reality of donning the Silver and Black. Alternatively, McNabb might take the Raiders as a challenge and might play with some extra motivation this upcoming season.

Any delay in his arrival in Oakland might be a chance for McNabb to demand a new contract from the Raiders, something Al Davis has shown a willingness to do, if it means bringing in a player the caliber such as McNabb's.

And although the Raiders have more holes than one quarterback can fix, the way the offseason has gone for the Oakland's divisional rivals suggests a power struggle is imminent.

The Chargers might still be the favorites, but after losing LaDainian Tomlinson, Jamal Williams, and Antonio Cromartie, their place at the top of the division is on shaky ground. The Broncos, who tailed off last season after a hot start, made some big moves to bolster their defensive front, and the Chiefs have been active as well, bringing in running back Thomas Jones.

Right now, it's hard to say where the Raiders fit in to the mix, with or without McNabb. That being said, if the Raiders pull the trigger on the deal, their first priority should be to lock up McNabb for as long as they can. Even though McNabb has made it known he wants to play for a contender, he might consider an extended stay in Oakland if owner Al Davis were to offer him a considerable contract.

Also, acquiring McNabb would essentially put an end to JaMarcus Russell's chances to reclaim his starting spot in Oakland. As written in a previous article, the 2010 season is likely Russell's last chance to prove himself capable, but given the reports of Russell's weight ballooning to near 300 pounds, it seems that the writing is on the wall and the Raiders might let Russell go after this year, barring any considerable improvement in attitude and performance.

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