I don’t think I’ve seen a contract extension that has made less sense than the one reported by ESPN’s Michael Smith on Monday. Smith reports that the Washington Redskins have signed Donovan McNabb to a five-year $78 million extension with $40 million guaranteed. Apparently the deal could be worth up to $88 million based on incentives. That’s strong money for a quarterback who turns 34 years old in 10 days and who was benched in favor of Rex Grossman two weeks ago.
What makes the deal so surprising is the timing. $40 million guaranteed is a lot of money even for a quarterback of McNabb’s quality, and it probably would have made sense had it been agreed upon prior to the start of the season. But McNabb has been solid, not special through eight games with the Skins this year. Moreover, all indications were that Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan were “disenchanted” with Donovan. There were reports that Mike Shanahan was unhappy with McNabb’s practice efforts, conditioning, and understanding of the offense.
Given that the biggest event following McNabb’s head-scratching benching in favor of Rex Grossman was a monstrous contract extension, my sneaking suspicion regarding Shanahan’s motivation has been confirmed. I speculated all along that Mike was playing a mind game with Donovan, trying to motivate him to play his best the second half of the season. If you remember in 2008 McNabb was benched during an atrocious showing against the Ravens. His next game, he threw for four touchdowns in a 48-20 Thanksgiving night win over the Cardinals. There’s no doubt Shanahan is trying to get the same reaction from McNabb.Google+