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News » Eagles Notebook: McNabb's interest in new pact with Eagles complicates things

Eagles Notebook: McNabb's interest in new pact with Eagles complicates things

Eagles Notebook: McNabb's interest in new pact with Eagles complicates things
Donovan McNabb might have changed the Eagles' outlook on bringing him back next season, with his Christmas Eve declaration of interest in a new contract.

That was the other thing the quarterback said Wednesday, after he said he thought he'd "played great" in leading the Birds to an 8-6-1 record that is unlikely to garner them a playoff berth, even if they beat Dallas on Sunday.

Eagles management might be a little troubled about the glowing self-evaluation. Yes, McNabb should break his own franchise record for passing yards in a season Sunday (3,875, set in 2004; he needs 134 yards to tie). He has been healthy and reasonably productive this year, breaking his own franchise completions record, with 333 (he had 330 in 2000).

But McNabb also ranks 16th among NFL passers, with an 85.3 rating. He was not in the NFC Pro Bowl discussion. He was benched for a half last month in Baltimore after a terrible stretch in which he was responsible for seven turnovers in seven quarters, five picks and two lost fumbles. Then McNabb's lost fumble ended up being the difference in Sunday's loss at Washington.

All in all, though, even if they'd like McNabb to be a little harder on himself, the Eagles can't pretend he hasn't been pretty good, on balance. Before Sunday, coach Andy Reid declared that McNabb was playing as well as he has ever played. There doesn't seem to be a lot of momentum toward going forward with inexperienced Kevin Kolb next season, especially since the Birds seem to have a defense that can contend for a title right now, given a more consistent offensive effort.

The bigger obstacle to McNabb's return might be the contract business. McNabb is signed through 2013, to a deal that will pay him more than $9 million next season. No, he isn't saying that is too little. Apparently, he is concerned about the fact that the bonus proration on the deal, signed in 2002, is dwindling. That means the "dead-money" penalty for trading or releasing McNabb is down to a little more than $1 million in 2009, and nothing after that. And the deal doesn't really last until 2013 - McNabb can void the rest if he's on the roster at the end of the 2010 season. Obviously, once the bonus proration ends, nothing is guaranteed - an offseason or preseason injury means no $9 million next season, or anything after that.

If McNabb gets a new contract, the team's cap hit for 2009 should shrink, but presumably the Eagles would have to include a significant new bonus that would make him much harder to trade or cut. Do they want to do that? Has he had that good a year?

This contract thing has been a back-burner topic for a while. Sources close to the situation have said the Birds and McNabb were talking about a new deal in 2006, right before his anterior cruciate ligament was torn. A lot has happened since then, including the drafting and nurturing of Kolb.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was asked yesterday whether he thought his quarterback had played "great."

"I'm not going to get into that," said Mornhinweg, who earlier in the conversation had decried offensive inconsistency.

At Witten's endThe last time the Eagles played the Cowboys, Dallas tight end Jason Witten caught seven passes for 110 yards. The Eagles' safeties and linebackers seem better in coverage now, but Witten, the guy Dallas took nine slots after the Birds drafted L.J. Smith in 2003, has been a long-term pain for the Eagles.

"Even though you have people around, he always seems like he comes up with the ball," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim John-son said yesterday. "He knows how to work his body to screen the linebacker or the safety off. He and [quarterback Tony] Romo have good timing on that. That's the biggest thing."

BirdseedThe Eagles' Christmas Day practice was abbreviated, but wide receivers Hank Baskett (knee) and Kevin Curtis (calf) were out there. After Sunday's dropathon, fans have to hope that bodes well . . . Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who dropped a touchdown pass against the Redskins, actually suffered two injuries Sunday, not only the rib problem the Eagles announced. Mornhinweg wouldn't disclose the second problem . . . Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (rib, groin) again did not practice; ditto tight end L.J. Smith (shoulder) . . . Safety Brian Dawkins (illness) was excused from practice. *

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 26, 2008

Kevin Kolb Name: Kevin Kolb
Position: QB
Age: 23
Experience: 2 years
College: Houston
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