Very little has been straightforward about Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb this season, including his new five-year, $78 million contract.
McNabb's deal includes a $3.5 million signing bonus, paid in 2010, bringing his total compensation this season to $14.7 million. But it also has a provision that would allow the Redskins to release him after this season and get out of the contract.
It's virtually certain the Redskins will not release McNabb for several reasons -- they have no other starting-caliber quarterbacks, there could be a long lockout in 2011, they're already the oldest team in the NFL (so developing a young QB would be difficult) and they just gave McNabb $3.5 million in new money when they didn't have to do a thing.
If/when McNabb is on the roster at the start of 2011, he will get a $10 million option bonus. McNabb also has a $2.5 million salary in 2011 and $750,000 roster bonus. So he would make $13.25 million in 2011. In 2012 he has a $12.75 million base salary and $750,000 roster bonus, for a total of $13.5 million.
McNabb's salaries in 2011 through 2014 are guaranteed for injury, for a total of $35 million (which, combined with the $3.5 million signing bonus, yields the total of $38 million-plus guaranteed). The contract is not guaranteed for skill, however, other than on a yearly basis, as has been the case in many recent extensions.
The greatest likelihood, given McNabb's age (34) and the Redskins' quarterback situation, is he ends up playing in Washington at least through 2012, in which case he will have been paid $41.5 million for three seasons, for an average of almost $14 million per season.
McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, confirmed the Redskins have an option to cut McNabb at the end of the season with no further money due.
Statistically, McNabb is having his worst season since his rookie year in 1999 as he transitions to a new offense. Including Monday night's 59-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, who traded him to Washington during the offseason for two draft picks, he was completing 57.1 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a passer rating of only 75.2. McNabb also has been sacked 27 times in nine games.
Before Monday night's blowout, McNabb's previous game on Oct. 31 in Detroit generated headlines for its bizarre finish and aftermath.
With the Redskins trailing by six, coach Mike Shanahan yanked McNabb for Rex 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 by offering varying explanations over multiple days. First, Shanahan said he felt Grossman was more knowledgeable in the team's two-minute offense. Then the coach said McNabb lacked the "cardiovascular endurance" to run a fast-paced drill because of nagging hamstring injuries. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said McNabb had been tipped in advance that the team might go with Grossman; McNabb claimed he didn't hear that.
Asked about his chances of not being with the Redskins next season, McNabb said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on ESPN980 that there is language in the deal that was necessitated by the possibility of a lockout.
"That doesn't mean I won't be a Redskin," McNabb said. "I will be here next year. ... Not just next year, but after that as well."
McNabb also responded to Cincinnati Bengals receiver Terrell Owens, who took a dig at McNabb over the Monday night debacle by tweeting: "How do u justify a 78 million dollar contract w/this type of performance?"
"It's funny he's worried about what I'm doing," McNabb said. "When what are they, 2-6?"
Worse than that. The Bengals are actually 2-7.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.