Though the Redskins have the ability to trade or cut quarterback Donovan McNabb before he earns a $10 million option bonus in 2011, the precise deadline for exercising the option bonus was not previously known.
It now is.
Like many other option bonuses to be paid out in 2011, the window for exercising the bonus opens on the first day of the next league year (which will be March 1, if there’s a new labor deal by then) and closes on the day after the first regular-season game. While the device as applied to other players was aimed at ensuring that the option bonuses will be paid once the labor situation is resolved, the device as applied to McNabb gives the Redskins the ability to squat on McNabb’s rights for the entire offseason, exploring their options via free agency, trade, or the draft before trading or cutting McNabb.
As a practical matter, a final decision likely will be made on or before the Friday before Week One of the 2011 season, due to the rules regarding termination pay. As one league source observed, “They can really stick it to him.” The source also pointed out that it’s hard to believe such a deal ever would be contained in a quarterback contract, especially in a contract for an older quarterback.