|Chicago missed out on Orton. Could McNabb be next? (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Last week, the Broncos released former starting quarterback Kyle Orton to give him a chance to catch on with another team now that the trading deadline had passed. On Thursday, the Vikings reportedly extended the same courtesy to Donovan McNabb, Minnesota's starter to begin the year who was replaced with rookie quarterback Christian Ponder in Week 7.
The Vikings were 1-5 when McNabb headed to the bench; they're 1-4 since with Ponder. There's a decent argument that Minnesota is virtually the same team before and after McNabb. Fair enough, but the biggest difference is that Ponder is gaining experience and has upside. With McNabb what you see is what you get. And, frankly, the last two seasons it's been hard to watch him at all.
According to Leslie Frazier, it was a mutual decision between McNabb and the team.
"He's been a true pro in every sense of the word," Frazier said. "He's a class guy. Always has been, and he's done a good job in spite of the fact he wasn't our starting quarterback.
"When you have a guy who has been this successful in this league, he has an idea how he wants his career to continue or not to continue. That played a role in making that decision," Frazier said.
But, hey, one man's trash…
In the NFL, competence is relative and there are several teams in the playoff hunt who are suddenly in need of a replacement-level quarterback. When Denver cut Orton, Chicago was an obvious landing spot. The Bears had just lost Jay Cutler to a hand injury and backup Caleb Hanie had yet to start an NFL game (that happened over the weekend and it didn't go well).
McNabb probably isn't as good as Orton but at this point in the proceedings, with just five games remaining in the regular season and Chicago's tenuous hold on a playoff spot, there's no time to be picky. The question, at its most basic, comes down to this: does McNabb give the Bears a better chance to win than Hanie?
If Lovie Smith and Mike Martz think so, they'll put in a waiver claim for him. If they don't, they'll pray that Hanie plays better and that Cutler's hand magically heals in the next few weeks.
But even if Chicago wants McNabb, there's no guarantee they land him. They also wanted Orton, but the Chiefs, by virtue of having a worse record, were awarded Orton off waivers. A similar scenario could play out again for McNabb's services.
This is bad news for Chicago but good news for McNabb, who hasn't been wanted since the Eagles traded him a few years ago. We're sure his confidence could use the boost.
Other teams that might be interested: the Texans, who just signed Jake Delhomme (!) to backup T.J. Yates and Kellen Clemens, and possibly the Cowboys, who put in a waiver claim for Orton last week.
UPDATE: The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans aren't interested. Put differently: they have more faith in Yates, Clemens and Delhomme.
After an overtime win last week over the Chargers, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos will travel to Mall of America Field to battle the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz take a look at this game.
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