While we can debate the wisdom/insanity of trading an in-his-prime quarterback within the division to a rival that desperately needs a QB, we won't know for two or three years whether Eagles coach Andy Reid did the right thing for his franchise Sunday night in dealing Donovan McNabb to the Redskins.
We can, however, make some judgments about the compensation level Reid got from Washington (a second-round pick in this year's draft and either a third- or fourth-round pick next year.) And in that, we can get into some pretty good arguments.
From the fans in Philly unhappy with getting "just a second-rounder and something next year'' for McNabb, I'd say that's a pretty silly way to look at it. The second-round pick is the fifth pick in the round, the 37th overall, in what most football people think is somewhere between a good to very good draft. The third/fourth-rounder next year is currency, a chip for a Philadelphia team that aggressively trades picks and players and is married to no one.
The Eagles could have traded McNabb to at least two other teams for a second-round pick straight-up, I'm told. I'm assuming those are Oakland and Buffalo. Instead, they got a better second-round pick, plus a future middle-of-the-draft choice.
Let's look at the value they acquired using the draft chart first put in play by the Cowboys 20-some years ago to help Dallas make quick decisions on draft-day trades by assigning every pick a point value, with a slight twist. The draft-day chart makes no allowance for a good or bad draft. Because this year's draft is clearly above average, I'm going to inflate the 2010 second-round pick by 10 percent. And to assign value to the 2011 pick, I'm going to arbitrarily give the value of a sandwich pick between the third and fourth rounds -- the 97th pick overall. The yield:
• The value of the 37th pick this year on the trade chart is 530 points. Using my math, let's inflate that by 10 percent, or 53 points, and give this pick a value of 583 points.
• The value of the 97th pick on the trade chart is 112 points.
• The total value, then, from the McNabb deal is 695 points. That translates to about the 26th overall pick in the draft. (This year, the Cards pick 26th, with a value of 700 points for the pick, and Dallas picks 27th, with a value of 680 points.)
I understand that if I'm inflating this year's pick, it stands to reason that the 26th pick would have an inflated value too. But I inflate because I know the Eagles could well use the 37th pick as trade bait, and there's a good chance it will have more value in dealing for a future pick (a first-round pick in next year's draft, for example).
Philadelphia has dealt a second-round pick for a one the following year. And with such a strong crop atop the draft, it would stand to reason that the 37th pick in 2010 would be worth a first-rounder in 2011 to many teams. So if McNabb ends up being worth picks in the middle of round one and middle of round three, for example, in 2011, then we'd be talking about much greater value than we're talking about now.
The Eagles had three quarterbacks in the last year of their contracts. They wanted to keep Kevin Kolb to be the quarterback of the future. It's hard to allow Kolb to be that quarterback of the future if he sits behind a 33-year-old McNabb. This is one reason the Eagles didn't have a great market for McNabb. As ex-GM Charley Casserly told me this morning: "There are two ways to consider trades. One is theoretical; if Rob Johnson were traded for the eighth pick in the draft, then Donovan McNabb is certainly worth more than a two and a lower pick next year. But the second way is dependent on the year. And this is just a different year. It's what you can get for a player when you really want to trade him.''
If I told you that you could get the 26th pick for a player you felt like you really wanted to trade, wouldn't you think that's a good deal? I would -- even if the player ends up on a division rival -- if you're confident the player you have is better, and if you're confident the player you're trading has enough inadequacies to his game that you don't think he can hurt you.
That last point is probably the key to this trade. And only Reid and the coaches closest to him know if it's true. You can be sure of one thing: Eagle fans will remind them, quite loudly, if they erred.
I appreciate the flood of e-mails and Tweets about my Donte Stallworth story Monday. Some of you thought I was balanced; some thought I was too pro-Stallworth. What I tried to do is tell the story fairly of the night he committed vehicular homicide, and the events that led to it. Many of you wrote to say you didn't believe that Stallworth could have tested at a blood-alcohol level of .126 by having, as he said, four shots of liquor and no other alcohol, and then being tested after the death of Mario Reyes -- about three hours or so after he consumed the alcohol.
A California Highway Patrol officer in northern California, Brian Geraghty, wrote to say he believes the difference between .126 and the legal limit of .08 in Florida "is significant in terms of brain impairment'' and he believes there's no way Stallworth could have had a .126 level with four drinks -- even if he had nothing to eat all evening. We'll start with his e-mail:
• ONE VIEW ON STALLWORTH. From Brian Geraghty of Berkeley, Calif.: "Hi Peter, thanks for the great columns each week. I don't think I can believe Donte Stallworth is trying to change his image when he's obviously not being truthful about the night he drove drunk and killed another human being. The guy weighs 200 pounds, had four drinks in four hours and took a nap in between and still blew a .126? Ridiculous. I'm a California Highway Patrol Officer and know that you'd have to be a 100 pounds to have that BAC after 4 hours. Let's be honest and say that Mr. Stallworth is trying to rehab his image because he wants to get paid more money.''
Fair point. I checked out the California Highway Patrol website and used the chart that can estimate blood alcohol content after a certain number of drinks, and the BAC would read about half of .126. I reached out to Stallworth on Monday night, told him of the skepticism, and asked him for a response. He said via text message: "Regarding the officer, I think I'll just let my words stand on their own. I'm trying to move past this and I don't want to go back and forth with every person who has an opinion that really doesn't know the facts.'' You'll have to judge for yourself whether Stallworth was more than just marginally impaired when his car struck a man and killed him in the pre-dawn hours of March 14, 2009.
• ANOTHER VIEW ON STALLWORTH. From Andrew Lane of Brandon, Manitoba: "Thanks for the story about Donte Stallworth. Like so many things, this story is not clear-cut; you did a great job of presenting the story without judgment, yet with a deep sense of the emotion that this tragic event generated for all involved. I wish Mr. Stallworth well and I extend my condolences to the family of the man who died in the accident.''
• KEEP HIM. From Steve of Fairfax, Va.: "I am curious to understand what the Eagles will do with Mike Vick and his $5.6 million contract if he is not the starting quarterback.''
He'll be the backup to Kevin Kolb, and play his 2009 changeup role at least a few times each game -- and more if Kolb is either injured or lousy.
• THE LIONS HAVE HOPE, HE THINKS. From Craig Ikens of Chicago: "As a lifelong Lions fans, I've been very impressed with the work of Martin Mayhew since he took over for 'he-who-shall-not-be-named.' It's already been a very business offseason (Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nate Burleson, Chris Houston and now Rob Sims). What are the impressions of Mayhew around the league and your impressions of his work to date?''
Mayhew got high grades among his peers for the compensation he got from Dallas for wideout Roy Williams (first- and third-round picks), and his first draft -- I believe -- will go down as a very good one, with a quarterback, tight end and safety who should all be cornerstone players. Louis Delmas, as you've seen, is a terrific tackler and rangy cover player in the secondary. The reviews so far are very good.
• THE LIONS ARE TOPICAL THIS WEEK. From Rich of Minneapolis: "I don't think enough attention has been made to the Lions possible drafting an OT. You mentioned it in MMQB, but most mock drafts have the Lions penciled in taking Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, defensive tackles. I don't think it can be underestimated that the NFC North has three very legit pass rushers (Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Clay Matthews) and the Lions can't afford to have Matt Stafford on his back as much as he was last year. Don't you think it's possible that even if they stay at number two that they take Russell Okung, the tackle from Oklahoma State?''
Possible if they trade down, but unlikely if they stay at two. My belief is the two defensive tackles -- a position of great need for the Lions -- are such strong value that Detroit would take their DT of choice at two and then take an offensive tackle with the second-round pick.