- Michael Smith, NFL Senior Writer
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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Eagles brass held a lengthy meeting last week, where last season's Week 12 benching and the subject of a contract extension were discussed, a source told ESPN.
Independent of the meeting, the source said that McNabb may hold off on further extension talks until he sees how the Eagles improve themselves in the offseason via free agency and/or trades.
According to a source, McNabb and agent Fletcher Smith quietly met with Eagles coach Andy Reid and Eagles president Joe Banner for several hours last Tuesday at the team's complex in Philadelphia, before Reid and Banner traveled to the league's scouting combine in Indianapolis.
The source said the sides cleared the air once and for all on Reid's Week 12 benching of McNabb in Baltimore. They also held preliminary, informal discussions about a contract extension, the source said. The source said the parties had preferred to keep the meeting confidential as they work through various issues beyond the benching.
Those contract talks may not resume any time soon. McNabb would like the Eagles to add to their already solid core pieces that would make them an even stronger championship contender before engaging in serious negotiations on an extension. McNabb, 32, is under contract for two more seasons.
Although McNabb wants to remain in Philadelphia, if the Eagles aren't successful in significantly upgrading an offense that needs help at wide receiver, running back and offensive tackle (veterans Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas are free agents beginning Friday), not only may McNabb drop his request for a new contract, he may consider going as far as to ask the Eagles to trade him.
Complicating the matter is that any marquee free agent at the skill positions (such as Cincinnati wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh) or any player whom the Eagles may target in a trade (like Cardinals wideout Anquan Boldin or Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez) almost certainly would want assurance that McNabb is going to be in Philadelphia long term.
In 2008, McNabb passed for 3,916 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in leading the Eagles to the conference title game for the fifth time.
Philadelphia began the season 5-5-1, then, following McNabb's benching against Baltimore, won four of its last five regular-season games to make the playoffs. The Eagles earned postseason road wins over the Vikings and defending champion New York Giants before losing to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.
Since then, Banner on several occasions has said publicly that McNabb would return for the 2009 season as the team's starting quarterback.
Michael Smith covers the NFL for ESPN.
13hEric D. Williams