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Matt Hasselbeck or Donovan McNabb in 2011?

Did Matt Hasselbeck ruin trade possibilities for Donovan McNabb in 2011Most NFL fans assume that Donovan McNabb will not be with the Washington Redskins. NFL analysts continue to talk of teams who need #5 and would or should trade for McNabb. Yet after NFL Wild Card weekend I wonder if Matt Hasselbeck has ruined the party for Donovan McNabb.

Matt Hasselbeck showed NFL fans on Wild Card weekend why he is still one of the most underrated QBs in the game. Hasselbeck not only put his team on his back in the most important game of the season, but did so against one of the best defenses in the NFL. As excited as Seattle Seahawks fans should be, the realization is that Matt Hasselbeck is also playing the final games of his contract with the team. With no talks of extension looming, Matt Hasselbeck may have played himself into the number one available quarterback in NFL free agency in 2011. That is bad news for Donovan McNabb.

Donovan McNabb is coming off of arguably the worst season of his 11-year NFL career. McNabb threw 15 interceptions in 13 games and his play was so bad that he was benched for Rex Grossman. In addition to the on field play, McNabb’s off field preparations were openly questioned by his coaches for the first time in his career. If only one team was seriously interested in trading for Donovan McNabb in the final year of his contract in 2010, how many teams do you think will be calling in 2011 to get him with a new deal that guarantees him a $10 million roster bonus? The Redskins didn’t exactly do a bang up job of shining up their trade bait.

Matt Hasselbeck is another story. I have always found Hasselbeck to be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. The baggage with Hasselbeck has always been his interceptions and yes, he had plenty in 2010 with 17 in 14 games. Hasselbeck’s propensity for injuries over the last few years has also been a concern, and yes he had those also in 2010. However, when you look at the games Hasselbeck played the Seahawks were a much different team. The guy is a proven leader and it shows every time he gets in the huddle. Matt Hasselbeck is still a winner and the Wild Card win over the New Orleans Saints was nothing short of brilliant for the 34-year old QB.

The NFL is routinely called a “What have you done for me lately” league. If a team with a desperate need for a quarterback decides to go with a veteran, the two likely choices are McNabb and Hasselbeck. Those same executives watched Donovan McNabb finish his season on the bench and looked as disinterested in the final Redskins games on the sidelines as most Redskins fans were in the stands. Those same executives just watched Matt Hasselbeck dissect one of the most dangerous defenses in the NFL, put the ball into tight spots in an intense playoff battle, take his team back from a deficit, and scored 4 touchdowns in a shootout. Who do you want for your football team next year?

It is really tough to say who needs a quarterback in 2011 before the season is officially complete or without the NFL draft. But for argument’s sakes I think it is fair to say that the Arizona Cardinals will be in the hunt for a new quarterback. Most new NFL head coaches prefer to go with their quarterback so chances are that Carolina, San Francisco, Denver, and Oakland could be in the hunt. If you are a new head coach looking for someone to win now and tutor your young QB would you rather have Matt Hasselbeck walk into your locker room next season or Donovan McNabb? The player who blamed the “youth” of his team for a loss or the guy at an away playoff game that said, “We want the ball and we’re going to score”? I think the answer is fairly obvious.

Donovan McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith has done him no favors in the last few weeks. Smith has been outspoken about the Redskins’ treatment of McNabb and has called out Kyle and Mike Shanahan on several occasions. Does another NFL franchise really need this headache for a guy that would likely be coming in to pass the torch to a young QB in two years? Call me crazy but I think they pass and put all their chips in for the player that has been a model citizen through his entire NFL career.

The fall of Donovan McNabb could be worse than anyone imagines. I would be shocked to see Mike Shanahan just outright release McNabb. The Redskins want at least one of their draft picks back that they gave up trading for him. Shanahan already said he’d have him back next year…as a backup. Shanahan has already shown with Albert Haynesworth that he’d rather retain a player’s rights and get whatever he can out of him than let him walk for nothing whether it is to the detriment of the team or not. A guy like Mike Shanahan running your team with so much power and nothing to lose is a very dangerous thing in the NFL, especially if you are a signed player that doesn’t like playing for him.

Who knows what would have happened if Matt Hasselbeck either didn’t play in the Wild Card game or play poorly? Hasselbeck would have probably entered NFL free agency as an aging, injury plagued quarterback available for a bargain to a team looking for a veteran for a year or two. Maybe that team would have preferred McNabb who at least stayed healthy in 2010. Now after one game regardless of what happens the rest of the way I believe that Matt Hasselbeck has become next season’s NFL free agency darling. Unfortunately the biggest casualty here once again is Donovan McNabb.

Fortunately for him, he is used to being the victim or at least playing the part to critical acclaim.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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