McNabb benching will renew Vikings rumors

Donovan McNabb was benched on Sunday and wasn't happy about the decision, made only a few days before the game. The tension between him and Mike Shanahan has renewed speculation that McNabb will be gone by next season, and the Vikings are one of the connect-the-dots choices.

Could the Vikings be in the market for a disgruntled Donovan McNabb? Considering the alternatives, it might well be in the cards for the Vikings.

Just as the Vikings have had what could be termed a soap opera season, the same is true in Washington. New head coach Mike Shanahan got things started early in training camp, refusing to allow $100 million man Albert Haynesworth to practice with the team until he passed a conditioning test – a humiliation that lasted more than a week and has carried over ever since.

As bad as the Haynseworth situation was, the McNabb scenario has been even worse. Benched a month ago because Shanahan didn't think the quarterback was in good enough condition to run the two-minute offense late in the game, the butting of heads between coach and player began. The announcement last week that McNabb wouldn't start the final three games so the coaches could see what Rex Grossman could do (just ask Bears fans and they'll tell you) has not been received well by fans or McNabb, who feels he was disrespected by the head coach.

"The way this whole thing went down to me was off, one that I strongly disagreed with because I've always believed that if you start something you finish it," McNabb told Washington's ESPN 980. " ... All of a sudden you get this news a couple days before the game, you do feel somewhat disrespected. You could have told me earlier or at least prepared me for it. Of course you get upset, (but) I didn't flip a desk over or kick a chair. Everything was handled awkwardly ... because of the timing and all the leaks ... and no putting out the fire. There was no, 'He's our quarterback and this is what we're doing.' Everything afterwards was like, 'there's no guarantee you'll be here' (in 2011)."

McNabb was having a career-worst season, ranking 25th with a 77.1 passer rating and having thrown a career-high 15 interceptions when Shanahan made the move in the wake of the Dec. 12 loss to Tampa Bay that eliminated Washington from contention.

What makes the Redskins saga so bizarre is that the team signed McNabb to a contract extension the week after he was benched in the final minutes of the Redskins loss. Although there was no up-front money added to the deal, if there was so much turmoil going on, it seems hard to fathom why Washington would sign him to an extension.

With the situation fractured and the future of McNabb in Washington very much in doubt, the Redskins have lost any leverage they may have had in the McNabb situation. He might have been worth a second-round pick in trade prior to the organizational dust-up, but now that asking price may drop to a third- or fourth-round pick as compensation.

For the Vikings, they may have to hope it is the latter, since they don't have a third-round pick in the draft following the Randy Moss trade. It may seem a bit early to be discussing the 2011 quarterback situation, but the reality is that Brett Favre won't be returning and Tarvaris Jackson isn't under contract after this season. As it currently stands, Joe Webb is the only quarterback on the roster that has taken a snap and is under contract beyond this season.

Whether McNabb is available – the Cardinals are said to be very interested in him – or not, it's clear that the Vikings need to make a move to get the position addressed following the season, whether there is a work stoppage or not. A first-round draft pick being used there is a possibility, but the Vikings will still likely need to add a veteran and McNabb might be viewed as a short-term solution to the problem.

While the Vikings are currently concerned about getting through the final two games of the 2010 season, don't be stunned if they're already looking at what to do in the offseason to fill the need at QB, and it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone if McNabb turns out to be the object of their interest.


  • The Bears won the division title with a win over the Vikings Monday and the Eagles can win the NFC East with a win against the Vikings Sunday.

  • The Bears will be cheering for the Vikings Sunday, because a Chicago win and losses by the Eagles and Giants would give the Bears a first-round bye in the playoffs.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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