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Unfair trade

The Baltimore Sun

The trade rumor that the Ravens could wind up with Donovan McNabb as their quarterback in 2008 just doesn't add up.

Here's why: It's just so out of character on the Ravens' side, and it doesn't fit with the circumstances in which the Philadelphia Eagles find themselves.

The Sun's Ravens reporter, Jamison Hensley, made the point in yesterday's newspaper that the Ravens are not in the habit of giving up high draft picks in trades. In fact, general manager Ozzie Newsome has never given up anything higher than a third-round choice for a player (Steve McNair cost a fourth-round pick in the deal with the Tennessee Titans).

And to get McNabb, the Ravens likely would have to give up their No. 8 overall pick in the draft and who knows what else. Possibly more picks. Maybe even veteran starters.

Now, it is true the Ravens have been in the habit of renting veteran quarterbacks short term rather than developing their own (the efforts with Kyle Boller being the notable exception). But think about the implications of a trade for McNabb.

Newsome is as influential as any GM in the NFL within his own organization, and the Ravens' well-regarded scouting department is his baby. A trade for McNabb that involves giving up a first-rounder and maybe other draft picks torpedoes a lot of its work.

The Ravens are a team that is in love with the draft, and justifiably so, because they've done so well with it over the years, which is part of the reason the Ravens have never been big players in free agency. The whole approach of mortgaging the draft for McNabb goes against the grain for the team.

OK, now look at this from the Philadelphia side. It has been mentioned that the Ravens' new coach, John Harbaugh, comes from the Eagles' organization, as if that has some weight. But Harbaugh was never involved with the Philadelphia offense. More to the point is who coaches Philadelphia. To say that Eagles coach Andy Reid and McNabb have been close is an understatement.

Over the last month of the 2007 season, McNabb began to approach his old self after coming back from a knee injury in 2006. Meanwhile, the quarterback the Eagles drafted in the second round in 2007, Kevin Kolb, didn't play when McNabb missed two games.

In the last four games of the season, McNabb completed 65 percent of his passes for 995 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Almost as significant, he ran for more than 100 yards. Sure, that should make him attractive to teams such as the Ravens and Chicago Bears, but it also raised the price on him astronomically.

One more thing: Philadelphia - much like the Ravens - is a veteran team that thinks that with a little tinkering and some luck, it can be back in the playoff hunt after an 8-8 year. If the Eagles trade McNabb and go with Kolb, who might not be a playoff-caliber quarterback for two years, if ever, what does that do to Philadelphia's window of opportunity with guys such as Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins? Do you think Philadelphia is willing to sacrifice the next two seasons by giving up on a Pro Bowl quarterback who could have four or five years left?

It's a rare trade that helps both teams. In this case, it would more likely hurt both sides.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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