LANDOVER, Md. – As their improbable cash cow hugged and mugged and prepared to play, his handlers beamed in the bowels of his new, suddenly more permanent home.
Fletcher Smith, Donovan McNabb’s agent who became significant negotiating McNabb’s millions as an Eagle then steering McNabb’s offseason trade to the Redskins, confirmed the terms of McNabb’s new deal: 5 years, $78 million, $40 million guaranteed.
“That’s accurate,” Smith said near the mouth of the Redskins’ tunnel.
Was McNabb happy?
“Yes,” replied Rich Burg, McNabb’s manager and major domo.
“Relieved,” Smith said.
Neither said it, but either could have added, “Exonerated,” or “Validated.”
Two weeks earlier, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had thrown McNabb under his personal bus, saying McNabb didn’t know the two-minute offense as well as backup Rex Grossman after he replaced McNabb in the waning minutes of a close loss. Shanahan backed that bus over McNabb, when he explained that McNabb wasn’t in good enough shape to run the two-minute offense.
Today, the Redskins gave McNabb the bus.
As he warmed up 90 minutes before the kickoff of Monday Night Football, former Eagles teammates Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson ran over to McNabb and threw him a Bro-hug, each chatting for a bit, surely a congratulatory exchange.
A list of statements from Redskins general manager Bruce Allen did not address whether the benching and the bungled explanations sped the negotiations (ongoing since McNabb was traded from the Eagles but dormant for the past month) to a finish, but Smith indicated that the incident certainly did.
Asked what role Shanahan had in the deal, Smith obfuscated:
“Mike’s our head coach. Obviously, from the point we traded for him, it’s developing this team, getting this team to go forward and compete in the NFC East.”
Which might mean Shanahan had no say whatsoever; that paws-on owner Daniel Snyder directed the move.
Or, it might mean Shanahan insisted it get done sooner than later, a diamond-encrusted olive branch that fused the coach and QB for several years to come.
Either way, said Smith, with the Eagles in town, with a possible firestorm brewing between coach and quarterback, with the Redskins at 4-4 and foundering, “The timing couldn’t have been better.”