It's pretty clear that to Donovan McNabb, the reworking of the final two years of his contract, netting him about $5.3 million in extra cash, according to a source close to the situation, and a guarantee for 2010, is about security. If healthy, McNabb now will be the Birds' starting quarterback the next two seasons.
But what is the benefit to the Eagles? Well, it's pretty simple -- the key piece in what they hope will be the Super Bowl-winning puzzle is no longer going to be sending out any signals of disaffection or aloofness. They have made their franchise quarterback feel much more secure than he felt a little less than seven months ago, when McNabb was benched for the second half of a terrible loss in Baltimore.
Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie took a break yesterday from his NFL softball tournament on a NovaCare practice field -- Lurie had just doubled down the leftfield line against the Steelers, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly -- to explain the team's motivation. He alluded to "a sense of fairness" in addressing a contract signed back in 2002.
"The franchise quarterback is really the face of the franchise, the head coach and the franchise quarterback," Lurie said, sweatily. "When you run a sports team, there's times when you have to understand what you have, and (display) a sense of fairness with a guy who's been the face of your franchise for so long. He never complained once in the seven years of his contract. It's just a win-win, I thought."
Earlier, in a news conference featuring Eagles coach Andy Reid and McNabb, the unstated premise arose over and over again: McNabb gets two years of security, esconced back among the top 5 paid NFL quarterbacks, according to agent Fletcher Smith. If he wins the Super Bowl during those two years, he's probably the quarterback here until he retires someday. If not, the sides will probably head their separate ways after 2010.
Of course, if McNabb somehow makes the next two Pro Bowls, breaks a bunch of his own passing records, and somehow the Eagles avoid winning the Super Bowl, through no fault of McNabb's, yeah, he could still be here after 2010. Lurie even mentioned Friday that there are all sorts of mechanisms, such as the franchise tag, to make sure teams don't lose franchise quarterbacks they want to retain.
But McNabb's focus, as he said over and over again in his first substantive remarks to reporters since Super Bowl week, is on these next two years.
"These two years are very important. With the type of team we have, I think it's important that we focus in on what we have to do to win that common goal, and that's obviously win the Super Bowl," McNabb said. "Anything past that, it'll take care of itself. At this particular point, these two years, we feel like we can get the job done."