Late For Work 5/18: McNabb To Ravens ‘A Bad Match’

Plus Sanders selected for College Football HOF and would Webb, Smith make best CB tandem?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 9:16 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

McNabb To Ravens ‘A Bad Match’

Quarterback Donovan McNabb has likely played his final game in a Washington Redskins jersey, what with his highly-publicized quarrel with Head Coach Mike Shanahan and all.

And now that the 13-year veteran might be available once free agency begins, The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel says not to “discount the possibility of McNabb backing up [quarterback Joe] Flacco in 2011.”

It is a challenge to consider him as a real option, however, because as Vensel points out “a few things” would have to fall into place around the NFL for McNabb to even become an option:

  • Backup quarterback Marc Bulger would have to officially leave the Ravens
  • McNabb would have to officially become available
  • A QB-needy market would have to dry up
  • McNabb would have to be willing to be a backup
  • Ravens brass would have to decide McNabb is the right fit

Steps one and two are easily conceivable and likely scenarios.

The free-agent gates are still locked, but Bulger, an unrestricted free agent, is already one of the hottest names on the market, most frequently linked to the Arizona Cardinals. And whether the Redskins trade McNabb or release him, NFL Network’s Rich Eisen explains, “I don’t think anybody believes Donovan McNabb has one more minute left in Washington.”

It would be a surprise to see numbers three and four pan out.

The list of QB-needy teams is long. Each franchise has options currently on its roster, but McNabb would be a step up for most: Titans (rookie Jake Locker), Vikings (rookie Christian Ponder), Bengals (Carson Palmer, who wants to be traded, rookie Andy Dalton), 49ers (Alex Smith, rookie Colin Kaepernick), Cardinals (Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall), Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick).

Not only would all of these teams have to pass on McNabb, but McNabb would also have to choose to be a backup rather than a starter. While Bulger made that very choice last year, McNabb doesn’t seem ready for the same fate. Especially when teams like Tennessee and Minnesota could legitimately compete in the playoffs with McNabb at the helm.

“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?” asked Vensel. “I have my doubts, especially if Flacco and the Ravens were to go through a rough patch.”

Now for number five. Would the Ravens consider McNabb the right fit?

General Manager Ozzie Newsome recently said that he will pursue a veteran backup quarterback this offseason. The Ravens will need that insurance policy just in case, heaven forbid, Flacco gets injured.

It’s the Ravens’ job to consider all options, including McNabb, but Flacco is the unquestioned franchise quarterback and team brass has repeatedly said he is capable of carrying the team to the Super Bowl.  Bringing in another player who seems to want that same role could send the wrong message.

This would be a bad match,” said ESPN’s James Walker. “McNabb still believes he’s starter material and that could create unnecessary tension in Baltimore. The Ravens need a veteran but not one pushing to take Flacco’s job.”

CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg thinks that potential free agents Kerry Collins (Tennessee Titans), Bruce Gradkowski (Oakland Raiders) and Tavaris Jackson (Vikings) could be backup quarterback targets for the Ravens.

Would Webb, Smith Make Best CB Tandem?

The Ravens still have a few free agent cornerback decisions to make, but they do have a few solid options already on the roster.

In a fan question and answer session with Walker, Ryan from Nashville asked if three-year veteran Lardarius Webb and 2011 first-round selection Jimmy Smith would be the best CB tandem for the Ravens.

“Webb can be a future starter, yes,” said Walker. “But this is a big year for him. I want to see more and I want to see him stay healthy. There is certainly an opening in Baltimore for him to play a role in the secondary.”

Webb started four games in 2009 as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve (knee) on Dec. 22. He came back to see action in 15 games last season, but never returned to the starting role. He did, however, occasionally cover the opponent’s best receiver, including Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace.

With the expected return of veteran and regular starter Domonique Foxworth, it will make the competition that much harder for Webb.

Smith has yet to see action in the pro game, but the future looks bright with both him and Webb growing together.

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