Andy Reid, Genius

With his handling of the McNabb situation, Big Red has put himself in a no-lose situation

Although no transcript exists of the reported phone conversation between Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid last week, one imagines part of it went like this:

Reid: Oakland and Buffalo have been asking about you.


Reid: They have the draft picks we want.


Last week finally brought the official news the Eagles were shopping McNabb, which was about as surprising as Eldrick Woods’ refusing to speak about why his wife allegedly used his head as a Nike One Tour golf ball. The interesting revelation was not that McNabb was for sale, but that Reid had set a limit on what he would consider as a proper price. For some reason, the 42nd overall pick in next month’s draft (the 10th in the second round) is the threshold. Anything after that is insufficient for one of the biggest lightning rods in Philadelphia sports history. Or any Philadelphia history, for that matter. Next to McNabb, Frank Rizzo was merely an interesting character. [SIGNUP]

What Reid did by setting the barrier at the 42nd Parallel was cover his backside, no mean feat. If some team (Oakland? Buffalo?) offers a high second-rounder for the quarterback, then Reid can tell everybody that he received sufficient value for McNabb. If, however, the best bid happens to be in the middle of the second round or lower, then Reid has the opportunity to say that there was nothing out there commensurate with McNabb’s value. It’s a great strategy. By establishing the market price himself, Reid wins either way. A trade means the Eagles got what they wanted. Standing pat means the Birds refused to be taken in a deal.

It’s brilliant, really. Reid has removed the responsibility for the deal completely from his shoulders. It’s not a case of whether he wants to deal McNabb, rather an instance of not being able to refuse an appropriate entreaty from another team. Or, in the case of a “substandard” tender, a no-brainer to hold onto the QB. Well played, Andrew.

As for McNabb, he hangs in Arizona, awaiting his fate. He has said and done everything right during this ordeal, expressing his desire to remain in Philadelphia and remaining hopeful that he can deliver the Super Bowl championship fans around here believe is their birthright. In reality, he’s probably as ready to bolt as many fans are prepared to ship him out of town. There hasn’t been too much he has done in the past five years that has brought him adulation and credit in Philadelphia, and it would be in his best interest to leave, especially given the team’s off-season moves.

Unlike previous years, when the Eagles approached the off-season with an eye on adding the pieces necessary to contend, this year’s moves have been different. They re-upped Jason Avant and Leonard Weaver. They signed free-agent running back Mike Bell and corner/safety Marlin Jackson and his two repaired ACLs. They traded for defensive end Darryl Tapp. None of that activity signaled a seismic shift in the NFC East terrain. And none, except for the deal for Tapp, who underachieved in Seattle, addressed the Eagles’ biggest needs: playmakers in the front seven, an established, ball-hawking safety and a fortified offensive line.

If this team, as presently constructed, heads into the season, the Super Bowl is a pipe dream. More moves could be in the offing, but it’s unlikely any will produce the kind of solutions the team needs. For McNabb, that means another 16 games of shouldering the blame when the defense can’t get to opposing passers, the secondary is shredded and the O-line needs protection help from backs, tight ends, ball boys and cheerleaders. In a town where substantial sports knowledge is supposed to be found in abundance, the continued desire to boil down the team’s problems to one man is laughable.

Trouble is, who wants to go to Oakland or Buffalo? Carolina might not be a bad destination, and San Francisco wouldn’t be bad, either. But their second-round picks fall below the magical 42 and would therefore represent inadequate value for McNabb, according to the Reid Scale. Expect another couple weeks of drama, as rumors fly, and the argument continues. And if I were McNabb, I would call Crazy Al in Oakland and Old Ralph in Buffalo and let them know that there is no way on earth he’s re-upping with them after the 2010 season, should they decide to deal for him.

And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the chance to keep begging Reid.

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• Let’s go, Nets! One more win, and the ’72-73 Sixers get to keep their record for NBA futility.

• Please join me in the A.B.D. Club for the remainder of the NC2A tournament. That’s “Anybody But Duke.” That charging call late in the Baylor game Sunday didn’t look fishy, did it?

• The Sixers are doing it again. When they’re supposed to win, they lose. When they’re supposed to lose, they win. It’s time for a few starters to develop back spasms and tendonitis.

MICHAEL BRADLEY fights for truth and justice in the world of sports from his secure World Headquarters in suburban Philadelphia. His work appears in Sporting News, Athlon publications, Hoop Magazine and Slam, and he is a regular contributor to Sirius Mad Dog Radio and 97.5 The Fanatic. He writes about sports for The Philly Post every Monday.