Maybe this will put to rest any questions about the Washington Redskins' confidence in quarterback Donovan McNabb's: The team has reached a five-year deal with McNabb, his agent said.
This comes two weeks after McNabb was benched late in a loss to the Detroit Lions.
After initially saying that backup Rex Grossman had a better grip on the two-minute offense, Shanahan later said a sore hamstring kept McNabb from practicing the hurry-up offense. And then there was concern McNabb didn’t have the “cardiovascular endurance” to run it.
McNabb, 33, has said he’s cleared the air with Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and is looking forward to putting it all behind him.
The $78 million extension could be worth up to $88 million with incentives and $40 million is guaranteed. The groundwork for these terms was reached in October before McNabb's triumphant homecoming to Philadelphia, ESPN reported, and the benching made finalization of the deal more urgent for both sides.
The deal came with impeccable timing, announced a few hours before McNabb and the Redskins hosted the quarterback's longtime team, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the Monday night game. It also came before McNabb was able to take his first snap following the bizarre Halloween events in Detroit.
With the Redskins trailing by six, Shanahan yanked McNabb for Grossman, only the second time McNabb has been benched during a game in his career. Grossman lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, and Washington lost 37-25 to drop to 4-4.
Pulling McNabb was baffling enough, but Shanahan compounded the matter with his varying explanations over the next couple days. Kyle Shanahan said McNabb had been tipped in advance that the team might go with Grossman; McNabb claimed he didn't hear that.
The confusion put the Redskins in the spotlight during their bye week. It had always been assumed the Redskins would sign McNabb to an extension before his contract expired at the end of the season, but had Shanahan lost confidence in him? And would McNabb even want to stay?
The answers, apparently, are no and yes. McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, said the benching had no effect on the negotiations, which had been ongoing to some degree since McNabb was acquired from the Eagles for a pair of draft picks in April.
"Once the regular season started, we really were aiming toward the bye week, and it came together," Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said. "I think coach and myself said that Donovan's going to be here from the beginning and Donovan has been real clear in his intent of being a Redskin. So I think it just puts an exclamation point on it."
Still, McNabb's adjustment to his first new offense in more than a decade has been a bigger challenge than expected. He was completing 57.4 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions and a rating of only 76.0 entering Monday's game. That said, he's been working behind a sub-par offensive line -- he was sacked 22 times through the first eight games -- and has only two reliable wideouts in Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong.