Over the last couple days Jon Merkle and I debated the relative merits of the two potential QB plans the Vikings now have before them, the Go With Ponder Plan and the Acquire a Veteran to Start Plan. Under the Acquire a Veteran to Start Plan, the assumption is that the Vikes would attempt to get someone with the ability to still win a fair number of games – in other words, not an end-of-the-road veteran like Marc Bulger, who would be brought in solely as an insurance policy for Christian Ponder.
The drawback to the Acquire a Veteran to Start Plan is that there aren’t a whole lot of guys out there who fit the requirements and could be had for a reasonable price. The first name that leaps to mind is Kyle Orton, but he only makes sense if he can be gotten for a lowish draft pick. Then there’s Kevin Kolb but everyone knows the Eagles will demand a king’s ransom for Kolb so he’s no dice for the Vikings.
Somewhat farther down the list you find a man named Donovan McNabb, who a year ago was thought of as a viable replacement for Brett Favre, until he was traded to Washington. There are still people, including me, who think McNabb could be a fit in Minnesota – but the number of people willing to take this point-of-view is shrinking every day.
Peter King used to be among those who thought McNabb could end up a Viking, but King has jumped ship too. On PTI King said he thinks the Vikings have “cooled” on McNabb after initially being interested. And King isn’t the only insider who now thinks the Vikings are backing away from McNabb. Sal Paolantonio basically confirmed King’s assertion, saying there is “no buzz” on the former Pro Bowler.
It’s hard to ignore the words of men like King and Paolantonio when they say your team is cold on a guy. That said, I think it would be premature to slam the door on all McNabb-to-the-Vikings talk, and here’s why:
As King and others have pointed out, the beginning of free agency will kick off a game of veteran quarterback musical chairs. This game is expected to sweep Kolb to Arizona, Matt Hasselbeck to Tennessee and Marc Bulger possibly to Seattle. Now if you’re the Vikings and you really covet a veteran, you suddenly have a lot fewer options. Orton would still be there, but what if Denver holds out for a second? Would you really give up a second for one year of Orton?
So under this (perfectly plausible) scenario, we’ve eliminated Kolb, Hasselbeck, Bulger and Orton. What does that leave? Well, it leaves Donovan McNabb.
Now let’s look at it from McNabb’s point-of-view. Washington is going to cut him, because they’re not going to find a team silly enough to give them anything for him in a trade. Seattle, Tennessee and Arizona are eliminated as potential landing spots. That really only leaves the Vikings and possibly Miami looking for a QB. If you’re McNabb, you are suddenly down to a precious few options. If at that point the Vikings come calling, asking you to play under an incentive-laden contract and telling you that you might end up mentoring the young guy rather than starting, what do you tell them?
Maybe McNabb retires under those circumstances. Or maybe he gets a better offer from Miami. Or maybe he sits around and waits for another team to have an injury. I don’t know what he does, I just know that once the QB carousel gets rolling, McNabb might find himself scrambling for the first seat he can get, and it might not be the seat he really wants.
In this case, “no buzz” might actually be a good thing. It could set the stage for McNabb to be had cheaply, under circumstances where he has no choice but to swallow his pride and compete for a job.