Les Bowen: Coach, QB may be linked

Posted: June 19, 2009

SOME THOUGHTS arising from the Donovan McNabb contract extension, thoughts that percolated through discussions with various involved parties over the past week:

Lots of reasons have been posited for the fact that McNabb's contract was reworked, and not extended. Here's an angle that hasn't gotten a lot of media attention - Andy Reid also is currently under contract only through 2010.

We've all speculated about the state of the Reid-McNabb relationship, in the wake of McNabb's benching last Nov. 23. But we don't really know how either man, deep down, feels about the other. The vibe I'm getting is that McNabb considers Reid a crucial piece of what's attractive about this situation. It's obvious there are things DMac could do without, in his 11th year here - the CSI-type scrutiny his every word undergoes, for example. Apparently, though, McNabb does not want to do without Reid.

It's unlikely he'll have to, although the last time Reid got a new deal, it happened very early, with 3 years remaining on his pact. That was just before the 2004 Super Bowl season, when the coach and de facto general manager was signed through 2010. At the time, team chairman Jeffrey Lurie said he hoped Reid would be the Eagles' coach for life, and 2010 was so distant, it almost seemed like a lifetime contract. Not so much anymore.

Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, said yesterday that no talks have taken place so far, but agreed that it seems unlikely the man who has coached and won more Eagles games than anyone will get into the final year of his contract without an extension. So something definitely could, maybe likely will, happen this summer.

"It's been a fabulous relationship, ongoing with the Eagles, and I'd expect it to continue," LaMonte said. He said he anticipated that a new deal for Reid would be "one of the easier things to get done."

Of course, McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, can recite a litany of franchise records for his client, almost as impressive as the list LaMonte can quote for Reid. And it isn't clear the Eagles would have been willing to commit past 2010 for McNabb. Do we know for a fact that they want to extend Reid, in both his roles? Not until they do it.

The way the money breaks down, it's still possible the Eagles could part with McNabb after 2009 - though if they do that, they will have paid him $15.5 million for one season of work, counting the $3.5 million guarantee for 2010. Hard to imagine that happening if 2009 is a reasonably successful, playoff season.

Right now, there's no reason to think McNabb has to win the Super Bowl this season to get a second year, with so much youth around him. Obviously it's hard to envision the exact circumstances of the way the season might end - if McNabb gets hurt, or throws six interceptions in a playoff game, it could all look different.

Would the Eagles paint themselves into a situation where McNabb was quarterbacking in the final year of his contract, in 2010? Reworking his deal last week doesn't mean they can't extend him at some point, especially if Reid's gets redone. Also, Lurie mentioned last Friday, without being asked, that there is this thing called the franchise tag, which can keep a team from losing a key player to free agency.

Speaking of last Friday, there was some head-scratching over McNabb's demeanor at the press conference. He didn't seem overjoyed. He had mild praise for the offseason offensive additions, but overall, No. 5 wasn't bursting with enthusiasm; more than anything else, he was defensive. A source close to the situation has said the wariness had more to do with McNabb's antipathy toward some media factions than with any dissatisfaction over his situation or his deal. The lingering question from early in the offseason, when McNabb supposedly wanted to evaluate what the team did before commiting to stay here, has been answered in a resoundingly positive manner, the source said. DMac is said to be very excited about what the Birds have done. *

Send e-mail to bowenl@phillynews.com. This originally appeared yesterday on Eagletarian, the Daily News Eagles blog, available at www.eagletarian.com.

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