The mid-afternoon image of Donovan McNabb as he was ready to leave the NovaCare Complex on Thursday was that of him walking in the hallways, with a USA Today reporter at his heels, practically begging McNabb to say anything at all. "I'm not talking about the Eagles, football," said McNabb, and kept on walking. That is the way McNabb played it the whole time as a not-so-secret series of conversations with the front office set the stage for the agreement to re-structure the remaining two years of his contract, and he'll talk about it this morning and we'll learn all the details.
McNabb and the Eagles wanted to keep the talks behind closed doors since the 2008 season ended, and while it was no secret that the two sides were talking, not a whole lot surfaced until the last couple of days when reports made it clear that the conversations were progressing and that seasons 2009 and 2010 were the focus.
The first thought is that McNabb won't have to listen to a season filled with "Is this your last year with the Eagles?" questions. That's a really good thing, a tired story line played on and on and on the last few seasons. The second thought is that the question of why just the two years, McNabb and the Eagles will discuss at the press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
Certainly, the "What happens with Kevin Kolb?" question is one to think about, but the fact is that he is in a good place as a backup right now and maybe it's OK to consider his place on a week-to-week basis rather than in the three-to-five-year window.
Another consideration here is that the Eagles went right on to another step in an important off-season by making sure they got the McNabb deal done, that they made their quarterback happy and that they can move to another item on a busy agenda. They took care of the pre-free agency period, then went out and did well for themselves in free agent, were very active and -- they think -- very productive before, during and after the draft and then enjoyed a strong period of post-draft practices, coupled with signing six of their eight draft picks.
Surely, some will wonder why the McNabb was a necessity from the Eagles' standpoint and another highly-publicized contract issue, that of Sheldon Brown's is not. The Eagles will be asked that question, I'm sure, at the press conference.
The talks were completed late on Thursday, after some steady conversations throughout the day, some final crossing the T's and dotting the I's. McNabb, after the reporter's chase was over, went into an interview with PhiladelphiaEagles.com, where he talked about his honor on Thursday night of being named as the Father of the Year by the American Diabetes Association. Then he sat down with the Eagles Television Network for another line of questioning on off-the-field matters.
Remember, McNabb wasn't talking about the deal until it was done. And now it is. And the Great Donovan McNabb Contract conversation/controversy/heated debate is halted for a while. To portray McNabb as a "lame duck," as I'm reading on the Internet, is totally absurd. He has a great contract for two years and he's happy. Maybe the Eagles and McNabb work on an extension during that time. Maybe not. A player gets inked to a long-term deal and some wonder if the deal is bad and going to go sour in two years. McNabb is happy for two years and he's a lame duck? Huh?
For now, for the reasonable future, we know McNabb is happy and we know the Eagles are happy. Beyond that, what is relevant?
You want your quarterback in a great state of mind to start the season and McNabb is in a great state of mind. He's in a good place and the Eagles are in a good place. You want to talk about 2011? Go ahead. Enjoy the conversation.
I want to talk about 2009 and the way it's shaping up for the Eagles. Let's go out and win the Super Bowl this year. The Eagles have structure and discipline and good drafts and the team is going to be good for years. This is about making sure that everything is right for right now.
The Eagles have their share of other questions. Brian Westbrook has had two surgeries in the off-season. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is battling a terrible illness. Those are some obstacles that must be overcome.
Otherwise, the off-season has been terrific. And having McNabb healthy and happy is right there at the top of the "Good Things" list.
We are going to learn the specifics of the deal as Friday moves along. Right now, the best news is that contract talk is over for McNabb, who was quiet through the off-season, and found that being silent could, indeed, mean a lot of gold in his future.