In the frenetic post-lockout world of the NFL, the Vikings got good and bad news in short order Wednesday.
After a day of apparent deliberations, Donovan McNabb agreed to a trade that will send him from Washington to Minnesota for a sixth-round pick in 2012 and a conditional sixth-rounder in 2013. ESPN reported the deal was finalized and would become official and be announced Thursday. An NFL source confirmed that information but said the announcement might be made Friday.
While the Vikings added the guy who would appear to be their starting quarterback for this season, they also lost one of their own key free agents. Sidney Rice, who had been the Vikings' No. 1 receiver, reportedly agreed to a $41 million, five-year deal that includes $18.5 million in guarantees.
The Vikings and Seattle both had been aggressively pursuing Rice since teams were allowed to begin talking to free agents Tuesday. No deal can be announced until Friday. The Vikings did retain kicker Ryan Longwell as he agreed to a $12 million, four-year contract with a $3.5 million signing bonus.
The Vikings and Redskins reportedly had agreed to a trade by Tuesday evening, but McNabb apparently did not sign off on it until later Wednesday. One issue was his willingness to tear up the five-year, $78 million deal he received from Washington last year and take a much shorter and less lucrative contract. The terms of McNabb's new deal were not immediately available.
McNabb will arrive in Minnesota as the expected starter ahead of first-round pick Christian Ponder. "[McNabb] has good experience in the West Coast offense and plays at a high level," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said in a text message. "[His presence will provide] a great veteran teaching tool for the young quarterbacks we have in Joe Webb and Christian Ponder to learn from."
Ponder, who has been hoping he might get the opportunity to start the Sept. 11 season opener at San Diego after being the 12th pick in the April draft, remained upbeat in a tweet he put out Wednesday morning.
"Excited to have McNabb join," Ponder wrote. "Will learn a lot from a Pro Bowler. But that doesn't mean I'm not still fighting to start Week 1!"
McNabb, who will turn 35 on Nov. 25, will arrive in Minnesota after a miserable one-season stint with the Redskins in which he threw a career-worst 15 interceptions and had 14 touchdown passes and a 77.1 passer rating in 13 games.
He will be immediately eligible to arrive at Winter Park, but because his contract will be redone, he will not be able to practice with the Vikings until Aug. 4. Language in the collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who sign new deals from practicing with their teams until the new league year begins.
While McNabb will be coming in the door at Winter Park, Rice will be departing after a four-year stay that included one brilliant season in 2009. Rice, however, also battled injuries during his time in Minnesota and missed much of last season after having hip surgery late in training camp. He can't undergo a physical with the Seahawks until Friday and will have to pass that before his deal becomes official.
There is little question that Rice's injuries -- he missed three games in 2008 due to a knee injury -- made the Vikings hesitant to give him as much guaranteed money as the Seahawks. Rice will be reunited with some familiar faces. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson agreed to terms with them Tuesday and former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now holds the same job in Seattle.
The Vikings now likely will have to turn to the open market to add a receiver to a corps that would include Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin as the top two options. The Vikings agreed to a one-year deal with free agent Devin Aromashodu on Tuesday, but he is a journeyman and can't be considered a replacement for Rice.
Available free agents include Braylon Edwards (Jets), Mike Sims-Walker (Jacksonville), James Jones (Green Bay), Steve Smith (Giants) and Malcom Floyd (San Diego). Plaxico Burress also remains on the market, but he's reportedly likely going to end up with the Giants or Steelers.