The Vikings veteran quarterback rumor compass (that’s a mouthful) has been pointing more in the direction of Kyle Orton lately and not so much Donovan McNabb. Many see Orton as a better fit given that he has only a year left on his contract, appears to be at a higher point on his career arc than McNabb and would probably not diva out as much if he didn’t get to start. The downside to acquiring Orton is, at least one draft pick would have to be surrendered in exchange. McNabb most believe could be had just by waiting for the Redskins to cut him, then waiting a few more days for no other teams to call him.
Clearly, Jason La Canfora is working from a different compass than most of us. His instrument is pointing at McNabb and not Orton. La Canfora wrote this about each quarterback Wednesday on NFL.com:
Up next, friends, is Orton, another QB. And this one is coming off a strong season and is someone who has proven he can help you win some games. Tim Tebow might be the future in Denver, though, and like Kolb, Orton is in the final year of his deal, too.
The skinny: Despite Tebow mania sweeping the country and a segment of the Broncos’ fanbase, Orton by far gives the team its best chance of winning games now … something the Broncos haven’t done an awful lot of lately. It would take a lot to pry him away (starting in the second-round level), and team officials doubt that kind of demand will be there. If it materializes, the Broncos will listen but I’d be surprised given this unusual offseason if he’s not their opening-day starter
We’re going to stick with the QB theme here and move to McNabb. Less than a year removed from getting an extension from the Redskins, and after just one season with the team, his future is now clearly elsewhere.
The skinny: McNabb very well could end up in Minnesota, but via free agency. No one will want to trade for a contract that guarantees a $10 million payment just before the start of the regular season. Landing any real compensation for the older QB, in a very short offseason and with that big bonus hanging over Mike Shanahan’s head, will be difficult if not impossible. Doing McNabb a solid and cutting him loose as soon as the lockout ends would be a classy thing to do, because the circumstances make landing much of anything for him so tough. Either way, the McNabb era in Washington is over.
Note that La Canfora neglects to mention any other potential players in the McNabb sweepstakes. No Arizona. No Seattle. No San Francisco. In other words, no sweepstakes, unless something changes between now and whenever players start moving around again.
Some have speculated that prideful McNabb would just retire rather than face the shame of playing back-up quarterback. But I don’t know if I buy that. McNabb is so prideful that I believe he would want another chance to play, just to prove his doubters wrong. Clearly, Minnesota would not provide the ideal opportunity for McNabb to stick it to his haters. They’re not looking for a 2-or-3-year starter, but a stop-gap/veteran back-up.
However, if McNabb receives no other offers, leaving his choice between the Vikings and retirement? He might have to just swallow his pride and take the job. So maybe McNabb sits on the bench for two or three games, just long enough for Christian Ponder to prove he isn’t ready yet. Then McNabb suits up, and quickly recaptures the magic of his Pro-Bowl days, flinging bombs to Sidney Rice. That’s a nice fantasy scenario to chew on while we wait for the lockout to end.
Another possible scenario sees McNabb not winning the starting job, pouting and getting cut. Or coming in for Ponder and getting decked by Julius Peppers, prematurely ending his career. These images are why many fans favor staying away from a veteran altogether and just letting Ponder have the job.
I still think it would be a mistake to let Ponder start without some kind of solid veteran behind him, knowing that we have a team full of veterans who might not react well to a struggling rookie at quarterback. Whether McNabb is the ideal guy to plug into that spot is debatable. But it does look like he’ll be available, and if you believe the experts, there isn’t going to be much of a market for him, meaning the Vikings would not have to break the bank to bring him in.