Donovan McNabb's lackluster 2011 campaign culminated with his requested release from the Vikings after his benching in favor of rookie Christian Ponder. His six-game tenure in Minnesota left McNabb miles away from the days of Pro Bowls and NFC Championships in Philadelphia.
McNabb has been training feverishly this offseason, hoping that an NFL team might give him another chance. Just yesterday, he told NBC SportsTalk that he gives himself an 80-to-90 percent chance of playing in the 2012 season. McNabb has reportedly narrowed his desired destinations to three teams, who have "a solid running game, weapons on the outside, a defense that's been playing well and playing well together, and that's ready to win right now."
Presumably, any of the teams that fulfill McNabb's requirements already have a relatively stable quarterback situation. Some have speculated Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Houston, or Kansas City could fit McNabb's requirements. None of those teams have yet to show interest in him. In each scenario McNabb would have little to no chance of competing for the starting job. But he would be a worthy investment for any of those teams as a backup, considering each team's recent history.
Pittsburgh is working with a 38-year old Charlie Batch behind Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger, despite his toughness, holds an extensive injury history, and Batch's effectiveness as a backup has waned in recent years. All things considered, even at this point in his career, McNabb would give the Steelers a chance to win with Roethlisberger sitting out. Joe Flacco hasn't missed a game in Baltimore but, should he miss one this year, the Ravens could feel more confident with McNabb than any of their current options like Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter.
Houston has the most logical need for McNabb of these four teams. Matt Schaub tore his ACL last season, and his effectiveness and durability in 2012 could be suspect. McNabb would surely perform better as a backup than rookie T.J. Yates did in filling in for Schaub last season. Matt Cassel spent the end of Kansas City's season on injured reserve with a hand injury. With his questions coming into 2012, signing McNabb would be logical for the Chiefs.
Many teams have written McNabb off because of his play in Washington and Minnesota. Yes, he was nowhere near the level of production he enjoyed with Philadelphia. But his play wasn't wholly atrocious.
Before his benching in Washington in 2010, McNabb was on pace for a career-high in passing yards. Last season in Minnesota, McNabb put up a respectable 82.9 passer rating in his six-game run.
Nobody should expect 2004-like numbers from McNabb if a team signs him in 2012. But any contending organization would be stupid to pass up an opportunity to have Donovan McNabb as its backup.