"We always felt Kevin was the real deal. He had the makeup. He was super-productive [at the University of Houston]. All the stuff [you look for in a quarterback], he had it. Right away, we knew he was going to be good."
During the offseason, when the Eagles started entertaining offers for McNabb, many people felt the Browns might be a likely landing spot for the six-time Pro Bowler. Heckert was the new GM there and team president Mike Holmgren is one of head coach Andy Reid's closest friends.
But the Browns never were a serious bidder for the 34-year-old McNabb. Instead, they ended up signing Jake Delhomme. While Heckert acknowledged that the Eagles' asking price for McNabb was a factor, he said a much bigger reason was that McNabb simply didn't want to play in Cleveland.
"He didn't want to play here," he said. "He wanted to go somewhere where he felt he could win right away. He didn't say he absolutely wouldn't play here, but it was pretty clear he wasn't enthusiastic about it. For him, it's Cleveland. A place that's been a disaster for a lot of quarterbacks."
Heckert admitted he was surprised that Reid traded McNabb to another NFC East team, the Redskins.
"I was [surprised] because I wouldn't have done it," he said. "But I don't think they had much else [other offers]. And even if they had a choice - everybody talked about Oakland being interested - I don't know that Andy would've done that to Donovan if he didn't want to go there. He wouldn't screw the guy if he had something else. And Andy's always been a big believer in, I don't care who you have, we're still going to be better than you."