EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Donovan McNabb didn't agree to a trade to the Minnesota Vikings so he could sit on the sideline and mentor a rookie.
Shanahan's parting shot
With first-round draft pick Christian Ponder already in the mix and the 34-year-old McNabb coming off a down year with the Redskins, some wondered if there would be an open competition for the starting job in training camp. But McNabb and Vikings coach Leslie Frazier put those questions to rest Friday night.
"When you trade for a guy who has been a starter for 12 years, you're not bringing him in here to be a backup," McNabb said. "You're bringing him in here to win now."
Frazier got to know McNabb well when he was an assistant in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2002, McNabb's first four seasons with the Eagles. When the NFL lockout wiped out all of the minicamps and organized team activities that would have helped Ponder prepare to start right away, there was one guy Frazier targeted to bridge the gap from Brett Favre to Ponder.
"We've signed him hoping he's going to be our starting quarterback, barring some unforeseen circumstances," Frazier said of McNabb. "He looks great. He's everything I thought he would be in our conversations, and I fully expect him to go out and lead our football team to the 2011 season."
The marriage with coach Mike Shanahan was nothing short of a disaster, with McNabb being benched twice and finishing with career worsts in interceptions (15), passer rating (77.1) and TDs (14). He threw eight touchdown passes in his rookie year but started in just six games.
"You know what? Everything was a blur (in Washington), and it's going to continue to be a blur because that's behind me right now," McNabb said. "So I've moved on. They are moving on, and we're going to keep it as such."
McNabb had to agree to a restructuring of the five-year, $78 million deal he signed with the Redskins in order for the trade to work. The numbers on his new deal weren't immediately available.
"It's like more for 20 years for $20 million a year," McNabb joked. "Yeah, you know, we're going to challenge Peyton (Manning) and his contract. It's undisclosed at this particular point. The main focus for me was get to a ballclub that has a chance at winning. It's not about the money."
When Frazier took over as the permanent head coach in January, he made drafting and developing the team's own quarterback a top priority. The Vikings surprised many in April by taking Ponder 12th overall, with the intent on starting him from Day 1 along the lines of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez.
Then came the summer-long lockout, and that plan was scratched. Frazier said he spoke to McNabb, Ponder and Joe Webb, who started for the injured Favre at the end of last season to make sure everyone was on the same page.
"I think they all understand the goal is to bring a championship to Minnesota, and this is a step towards getting that done," Frazier said. "I'm hoping and believing this is not going to impede Christian's progress, nor Joe's. Both of those guys are people we still have a lot of high hopes for, and we expect them to continue to get better and compete."
"I've been in the situation before, being the starter and they draft a young guy," McNabb said, referring to when the Eagles drafted Kolb in 2007. "But you try to prepare yourself and go out on the field to do the right thing to contribute to winning while you're helping the young guy along."
The Vikings expect nothing less in Minnesota, where Ponder is the quarterback of the future. Just when that future begins is anyone's guess. The Vikings have a roster full of players in their prime - Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, Visanthe Shiancoe -- or just past it -- Antoine Winfield, Kevin Williams, Steve Hutchinson.
None of those players are interested in a rebuilding project with a young quarterback learning on the job, and neither is Frazier.
"He's a great quarterback, a Super Bowl quarterback," Ayodele said of McNabb. "It changes the team totally, having Donovan here. I know a lot of people are excited about it. I'm excited about it."
Signing Ayodele, who started for the Saints the last two seasons, would seem to lessen the chance of 38-year-old nose tackle Pat Williams returning this year, while adding Aromashodu will bring some much-needed depth to the receiving corps.
Frazier said finding another receiver on the free-agent market is "not our focus," which could put even more pressure on McNabb to return to his Eagles form.
"I just know that there's some good football left in Donovan," Frazier said, "and I think we'll be the beneficiary of that."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press