After months of trying to trade Donovan McNabb, the Eagles finally found the unlikeliest of destinations for the onetime franchise quarterback.
On Sunday night, the Birds sent the former No. 1 draft pick - a quarterback who led them to five NFC championships and one Super Bowl - to the division-rival Washington Redskins for a pair of draft picks.
That means the Eagles will have to play against McNabb twice a year.
The Eagles will receive a second-round pick (37th overall) in the 2010 NFL draft from the Redskins, along with a fourth-round pick next year. The three-day draft begins April 22.
Was it a mistake to trade Donovan McNabb to a division rival?
The Eagles now own four of the top 70 picks in the draft - at numbers 24, 37, 55 and 70.
The team announced the deal Sunday night.
McNabb, 33, was selected to the Pro Bowl six times in his 11 seasons in Philadelphia and owns franchise records for passing yards, completions and touchdown passes. But his inability to win what would be the team's first Super Bowl championship - plus his contract status - made him expendable.
McNabb was due a $6.2 million roster bonus on May 5, a factor that may have scared off some other suitors. He is due to make $5 million in salary this fall, the final year of his contract.
Kevin Kolb, who has started two games in three seasons, becomes the starter. Michael Vick is the current backup.
"This was a very tough decision," coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "Donovan McNabb represented everything a football player could be during his 11 seasons in Philadelphia. He carried this organization to new heights and set a high standard of excellence both on and off the field. We thank him for everything he did for this football team and for this city."
McNabb threw for 3,553 yards and 22 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 14 games last season, leading the Eagles to an 11-5 finish that included a six-game midseason winning streak. His passer rating of 92.9 was the third-highest in his career.
But McNabb played poorly in a 24-0 loss to Dallas in the season's final game - a loss that cost the Eagles a division title and also lost them a first-round bye.
When he struggled in a 34-14 loss to the Cowboys the following week in an NFC wild-card game, speculation that he had played his final game with the Eagles began immediately.
At halftime of the playoff game, the Birds trailed by 27-7, meaning that they had been outscored by a devastating 51-7 in their last six quarters against their bitterest rival.
The next day, Reid said McNabb would be his starter in 2010. The coach stuck to that line throughout the winter, until finally acknowledging last month that the team was listening to offers for all three of its quarterbacks.
That kicked the trade speculation into high gear and prompted a response from McNabb on his Web page, asking for a quick resolution.
It came Sunday night.
"Donovan is the ultimate professional," Eagles president Joe Banner said in a statement. "He has an incredible work ethic and has been an integral part of our success. Over the years, Donovan has always carried himself with a great deal of dignity. He's an excellent role model for young men and women from across the region. In my mind, he'll always be remembered as one of the greatest Eagles of all time."
"Donovan McNabb was more than a franchise quarterback for this team," Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He truly embodied all of the attributes of a great quarterback and of a great person. He has been an excellent representative of this organization and the entire National Football League both on and off the field. I look forward to honoring him as one of the greatest Eagles of all time and hopefully see him enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton one day."
McNabb passed for 32,807 yards in his 11 seasons with the Eagles, with 216 touchdown passes and exactly 100 interceptions.
His best season for completions was 2008, when he connected 345 times for 3,916 yards, also a career best. His best touchdown total in one season was 31 in 2004, the year he took the Eagles to his only Super Bowl appearance.
Ironically, that statistically outstanding 2008 season had been interrupted by a highly controversial benching. The Eagles played a 13-13 tie with the moribund Cincinnati Bengals and fell into last place in the NFC East at 5-4-1. The following week in Baltimore, McNabb threw two interceptions and fumbled in the second quarter, as the Ravens took a 10-7 lead.
Reid not only decided to bench McNabb at halftime, he sent a trainer to inform the quarterback.
Kolb was sent in with virtually no preparation, going 10 for 23 for 73 yards and two interceptions, and the Eagles were roasted, 36-7.
Reid immediately named McNabb the starter for the next game - just four days later, on Thanksgiving night at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles routed Arizona, 48-20, then beat the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 20-14. When the Eagles beat Cleveland but lost at Washington in the following two weeks, that set up a showdown against Dallas in the season finale.
With the 2008 season's playoffs on the line, McNabb led the Birds to a 44-6 rout of the Cowboys to take the team to the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record. With wins over Minnesota and the Giants in the first two playoff rounds, the Eagles traveled to Arizona for the fifth NFC final of the Reid-McNabb era.
Again, they lost. Again, McNabb had the ball on the game's final possession and failed to deliver. The Birds took a 32-25 loss and Arizona went to its first Super Bowl.
After the 2008 season, though, McNabb was rewarded with a restructured contract - one that contains the May 5 roster bonus that has contributed so much to his trade.
Contact Don McKee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.