Tuesday November 16th, 2010

Reaction to Donovan McNabb's contract extension with the Redskins Monday afternoon: Are you kidding me?

Reaction to Michael Vick's six-touchdown game against the Redskins Monday night: Are you kidding me?!

Washington GM Bruce Allen is too smart to hand a struggling quarterback -- regardless of the motivation for doing it -- a guarantee of $40 million in any contract. I knew that much. If he'd done so, I wouldn't have been alone in ripping him, Dan Snyder and Mike Shanahan for the deal. But in the light of day we see it's a different deal, and not so much of a big story.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning, Washington paid McNabb a $3.5 million bonus upon execution of the contract. The club has to decide whether to pay him a $10 million option bonus early in the 2011 offseason; if the Redskins do, they'll be on the hook for his relatively paltry $2.5 million salary for the 2011 season. The deal escalates in 2012 to 2015 to larger numbers, but the contract, essentially, gives the Redskins two reasonable outs in the next year or so.

If they decide to let him go after this season, they've paid only $3.75 million (which includes $250,000 if he stays active for eight games, which he has already done). Then, if they chose to have him on the team in 2011, they pay $12.5 million, which seems fair. The guarantee portion of the deal would come in if he suffers a serious injury, presumably one that ends his career -- then the Redskins would owe him $25 million.

That is not a bad contract at all. And though it could end up a five-year, $78-million deal (which was first reported Monday afternoon by ESPN's Michael Smith), it will do so only if he's the kind of franchise quarterback the Redskins thought they traded for last April. McNabb has not been that player yet. After 10 weeks of his first season playing for father and son Shanahan, McNabb is the 29th-rated quarterback in the league. If he doesn't improve, he's not going to be the quarterback for very long. Pure and simple.

Now for Vick. What can you say about his game Monday night other than it's the best game he's played in his life -- not the most clutch; that would be waltzing into Lambeau Field his second season and putting a 27-7 beatdown on Brett Favre and the Packers in the playoffs -- and it came on a very big stage, with mentor McNabb on the other side of the field. By the time McNabb had a first down, Vick had staked the Eagles to a comic-book-like 35-0 lead early in the second quarter.

As for what it means, I think we have to wait to declare Vick the winner of the 2011 Free Agent Lottery Jackpot or the 2010 MVP, or both. The only way any team out there -- including Philadelphia -- is going to pay Vick huge money is if it knows he can stay healthy. He's played 16 games once in his career, has shown a tendency to take far too much of a beating by straying too far out of the pocket too readily. He's already missed three games this year because of a rib injury from being sandwiched by the Redskins early in the season. It's vital for his long-term economic future that he starts and finishes the next seven games -- and, of course, plays well.

Now for your e-mail:

• JASON GARRETT'S IMPACT. "Can you provide some additional insight in regards to the Cowboys? Is their incredibly improved play against the NYG simply due to the coaching change? What's the drastic difference between how Wade coached and how Garrett coached (for the past five days) that woke the team up? It's crazy that players getting paid what they do, apparently quit on their team. Wouldn't their pride and competitive spirit keep them playing hard? I'm confused because Wade has been referred to as 'a player's coach', so why would they quit on him. Pretend you're his shrink and Wade is laying on your couch: What do you tell the guy?'' --Ryan, Seattle

I think what Garrett did is just tell every player he's under the microscope, and every one of his actions will have consequences. As for the shrink part of it ... what I'd tell Wade Phillips is the thing that's missing on his coaching résumé is the ability to put the hammer down on players, which Garrett is apparently doing.

• TERRELL OWENS' IMPACT. "Did you see the end of the Colts-Bengals game and what Terrell Owens did to sabotage his team's chances at the end of the game? Why is this man still employed?'' --Dan Foster, Bowie, Md.

Not sure it rises to the level of being fired, but I do think Marvin Lewis has to say to Owens that if a ball's close, and he doesn't go for it, he's going to be pulled off the field. I think that's essential.

• I CAN DO THAT. "Can you please explain and rank the AFC West for me? The Broncos got blown out by the Raiders at home. The Raiders squeaked out a win against the Chiefs; but the Broncos just blew out the Chiefs. Will the Chargers make another late-season run? Please help sort out this mediocrity.'' --Daniel Kuntz, Milwaukee

I think I'd put them in this order:

1. San Diego, assuming they get healthy enough at receiver and don't get killed by their special-teams

2 (tie) Oakland and Kansas City. Too close to call. If the Raider pass-rush continues to press the pocket the way it has in the past two games, I'd give Oakland a slight edge.

4. Denver. Too inconsistent, though Kyle Orton gives them the ability to be in every game.

• MCNABB'S IMPACT ON THE FREE MARKET. "Thanks for the weekly required column to start the week. I was wondering your thoughts on the Donovan McNabb situation, and how it pertains to other quarterbacks around the league who are free agents. McNabb signed an $80-million dollar deal at 33 going on 34 seems to have leadership and experience yet some wear and tear on his tires. This leads to the question of another soon to be free agent, Michael Vick. Younger, and fresher, but is he the franchise quarterback in Philly or elsewhere? Are the players mainly Minnesota, Arizona and Seattle? Or is Kolb on the market, and what is the market for either of the two? As long as Vick is out of the Giants division, that's fine by me." --Adam, New City, N.Y.

This is an interesting question. It's one of the first things I thought of Monday when I heard about the deal. The two big quarterbacks who will be free at the end of this year are Vick and Peyton Manning. I think it has little to with Manning's deal because Manning was going to be far above that anyway; he'll end up being in the $23-million-a-year range, I'd guess. Now, Vick is a different story. If Vick stays healthy, and I think that's the biggest factor in the money he'll make, I think he should pass McNabb's per-year deal. But, obviously, the McNabb deal has a lot of asterisks in there, and as I wrote higher in this column, he has to play well to make that money.

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