Answering the McNabb question

Donovan McNabb has been in town working out with his former teammates this week. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

It is a purely hypothetical question - one that is not based on fact, or at this point, even rumor.

But it's the kind of question that's debated among Eagles fans in the sometimes slow (especially this year) offseason months, and it's one that's been e-mailed to me multiple times.

Since Donovan McNabb was in town yesterday, I figured now would be a good time to address it:

Would the Eagles ever consider bringing McNabb back as a backup?


Would you welcome Donovan McNabb back as a backup down the road?

As I'm sure you've heard by now, the former Eagles quarterback was in South Jersey yesterday to help dedicate the McNabb Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, N.J. And he also took some time to work out with his former teammates. I don't think there's anything to that other than he wanted to hang out with some old friends while he was in town.

In terms of the immediate future - meaning 2011 - I think McNabb wants to start. That is not going to happen in D.C. after a disastrous one-year run with the Redskins, but it could happen elsewhere.

Remember, McNabb is one year removed from a season in which he completed over 60 percent of his passes, averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and tossed 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The league is currently showcasing a younger group of quarterbacks. McNabb will be 34 at the start of next season. Among the top 10 leaders in quarterback rating in 2010, only Peyton Manning was 34 or older.

While McNabb's certainly past his prime, he might still be able to start in the league for a few years, even if he's no longer among the NFL's better QBs.

And I think that's at least what he's expecting to do. I highly doubt McNabb would be willing to accept a backup role as early as next season, so those of you who have asked whether he can be the veteran the Eagles need behind Michael Vick (assuming a Kevin Kolb trade) are out of luck.

But in 2012 or 2013?

I wouldn't completely rule it out.

The rationale is pretty simple.

From McNabb's perspective, if he realizes down the road that he is on his last legs and has no shot to start anywhere in the league, why not return as a backup to the city where he spent most of his career? While McNabb undoubtedly felt slighted when the Eagles dealt him, don't forget that he always wanted to stay. Even when he was introduced to the media in D.C., McNabb made it clear that the decision to leave was not one that he made.

And after a year with Mike Shanahan, he would probably welcome a return to the comfort level he had with Andy Reid (assuming Reid is still the coach).

As for the fans, we all saw the ovation McNabb received in his return to the Linc last season. I get the impression that many of you would welcome him back in a backup role. But you can answer that for yourselves in the accompanying poll.

From a football perspective (again, if Reid is still here), McNabb would already have a good grasp of the offense. Of course, it's one thing to know the offense and another to execute it. Maybe he won't have anything left, and the Eagles will have better options, but in a backup role, the expectations are obviously lowered quite a bit.

I'm not predicting it's going to happen, but it's certainly not the most far-fetched idea, especially considering the twists and turns this franchise has provided in recent years.

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