Commentary

Donovan McNabb needs a new team

Could he be the bridge for the Vikings, giving Christian Ponder time to develop?

Originally Published: June 6, 2011
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Donovan McNabbMatt Stamey/US PresswireIt seems clear that veteran QB Donovan McNabb is done in Washington. But until the lockout ends, his move to a new team is on ice.
Michael Robinson, the Seattle Seahawks running back, has been training in Phoenix with Donovan McNabb, trying to figure out where their football careers will take them in the next few months.

Robinson is a technically free agent but he's not sure if his staus is unrestricted or restricted. If the NFL brings back 2010 free-agent rules for 2011, Robinson, who has five years of service, would be a restricted free agent because the 2010 rules mandate six years to be an unrestricted free agent. McNabb's situation is worse. He's under contract with the Redskins, but the Redskins will either cut or trade him on their timetable.

McNabb lives in Phoenix during the offseason, but for the second straight year he's heard from the Cardinals -- who are as desperate for a quarterback as any team in football -- that they aren't interested in him. Robinson and McNabb train together, and Robinson says McNabb admits he has no idea where he's going to end up.

"He keeps telling me all he wants to do is get with a team and take them to a Super Bowl," Robinson said Saturday.

Robinson's prediction is that McNabb will end up with the Vikings. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder held a team workout for his Vikings teammates in Bradenton, Fla., and most of the receivers, tight ends and running backs didn't show up. The Vikings have a veteran team. McNabb might be a nice fit to buy time for Ponder to develop.

From the inbox

Q: Do you truly believe that Kyle Orton is a good fit for Seattle? I know that he was a good QB in Chicago, but did not really prove himself in Denver. I think it would be a great pickup for when Matt Hasselbeck leaves, but can it work?

Spencer in Gilbert, Ariz.

A: Orton would be a good fit, but it would serve the Seahawks better to re-sign Hasselbeck and not give up the second- or third-round choice it would cost to acquire Orton. Follow me on this. I'd rank Orton as the 17th-best quarterback in the league. He's not elite, but he's good. If the Cardinals can't get Kevin Kolb, they've got to come up with Orton. I have Hasselbeck now as No. 20, but still good. I actually think the Broncos should keep Orton. He was on pace for a 5,000-yard season at one point last season.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesCould Reggie Bush have a future at wide receiver?
Q: I think Reggie Bush is a No. 1 receiver on most teams. Would Reggie be open to signing with a team that converts him to WR in the same way Percy Harvin is a wide receiver (i.e. the Chicago Bears or Eagles)? With his straight-line speed, Wes Welker cutting abilities, and great hands, I just always wonder why it hasn't already been done.

Michael

A: I don't think he will willingly change positions. I think he likes being a running back. It sounds as though he might squeeze out one more year with the Saints. Because he had micro-fracture surgery, he has to watch how he fits into an offense. I'd keep him at running back. He may not get the yards up the middle but he's quite a threat out of the backfield.

Q: I recently read that Ryan Leaf had surgery to remove a brain tumor. Regardless of his reputation, I really feel for the guy and hope that he recovers. That got me thinking. I was living in San Diego when he got drafted and I saw firsthand the college standout deteriorate into one of the worst NFL quarterbacks (regardless of draft status) in history. He was a great player in college but completely combusted in the NFL. My question is how. We've heard all of the talk about maturity and his attitude. However, generally speaking, how does someone who excels so much in Division I college football stink up the field so much in the pros?

Thomas in Charleston, S.C.

A: Let's all support a complete recovery for Ryan. As for his football career, sports is more than just talent. I remember standing on the field in Stockton, Calif., watching Leaf throw and marveled at the arm strength. But to be a quarterback in the NFL, you need to study, be a leader and be able to handle the pressure. Leaf failed in those categories. JaMarcus Russell had great talent but failed in a similar way. It's a sad story.

Q: Do you feel that Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will be applying for the NFL supplemental draft sometime in July this year now that OSU coach Jim Tressel has resigned? That would probably be his best bet, under the circumstances.

Gordy in Circleville, Ohio

A: I can't see him staying in school even though his legal guardian said Friday he is coming back to school. He's already out for the first five games, and it's hard to tell how tough it would be to return for seven games. He's projected as a third- or fourth-rounder, but there are questions about how he would make the transition into the NFL. That's why it wouldn't surprise me if he would drop to the fifth round of a supplemental draft. Some think he would be a better receiver than a quarterback in the NFL. With the investigation ongoing at OSU, who knows if he's going to have to sit out more than five games. According to some folks he knows in Pittsburgh, Pryor is sticking around Columbus for now to answer NCAA and school inquiries. He'll have to make a decision in a couple of weeks about whether to apply for the supplemental draft.

Q: Can you please explain how or where the rookies (just drafted) fit in with the union and this lockout? It seems to me that they need to be issued a paycheck before they can pay union dues. If that is the case, they have no vote with the union and are essentially being promised representation by the existing union members. It is very confusing because, if they have not paid dues and are not part of the union, why can't the coaches reach out to them?

Matt in Des Moines, Iowa

A: Rookies aren't part of the union until they sign their first contract. That obviously is being held up by the lockout. They have no vote. They have no voice. I know the lockout is confusing. The reason coaches can't reach out to them is that the legal position of the league is no contact with any player -- even those just coming into the league. These are the unfortunate casualties of this labor battle.

Q: We are about 10 weeks away from preseason and the continuing lockout has me wondering. At what point should the fans just say enough is enough and walk away from the league and let both sides lose? Or have we already passed it? If they were to settle things tomorrow, should we even care about the upcoming season? We are the reason the sport is as popular as it is. We buy the tickets, the jerseys and provide an audience to the advertisers that are fundamental to the success of the NFL as a business. Andrew in Baltimore

A: Andrew, keep reminding them. I do think the owners are starting to listen. According to a source, it was the owners who initiated this most recent secret meeting. They realize fans are mad and are starting to turn away from the game. If they get a deal done by the end of June, I think all the fans will be back. I know losing an offseason has hurt, but as long as there is free agency, training camps and games, the healing process will start.

Q: When some form of agreement is reached between the players and owners, and the league has a better idea of financial parameters, will that have any influence on the return of the NFL to Los Angeles?

Timothy in Los Angeles

A: I think it will. If a collective bargaining agreement can be reached by the end of June, it would have to help with the efforts on the downtown Los Angeles property. It's going to be hard for politicians to support a controversial proposal if the league remains in lockout and there is the threat of no football. The Vikings and the Chargers are the main targets at the moment. Both teams are trying to stay in their cities, but having a labor deal clears up a lot of uncertainties.

Q: All this talk about the Jets needing a wideout and outside pass rush, there seems to be something no one has mentioned. There is a gaping hole at right tackle. Damien Woody should be considered for HOF, but he was released and is coming off a torn Achilles. What are they going to do? Are there options out there?

Brian in Rye, N.Y.

A: I don't buy the HOF idea for Woody, but don't rule out his re-signing. They could go for Sean Locklear of the Seahawks, but the time off has given Woody the chance to recover and think about coming back at a reduced salary.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer