It seems what started as an unsubstantiated rumor and became a sensational breaking report within a few hours was completely false—at least that's what the St. Louis Rams would have you think. Nothing is imminent though, and depending on who you believe, there hasn't even been a conversation. It's amazing everybody could wander so far off the trail...
Unless I told you the entire rumor began at Bleacher Report.
When 97.5's Mike Missanelli received an anonymous tip yesterday on his show that a trade would be announced within hours, we immediately jumped into action. Unless it was a contact with ties to the Eagles front office, there wasn't any reason we couldn't track down the same information.
So that's exactly what we did. With the assistance of Twitter, we were able to trace the initial rumor all the way back to its internet source. The most recent discussion sprung from a Bleacher Report article asking whether the Rams would pursue McNabb, which began:
Rumors are swirling that the Philadelphia Eagles are in talks to trade Donovan McNabb. Among the likely candidates for the trade is St. Louis, owner of the first pick in the upcoming draft.
If the Rams did trade for McNabb, what might be the compensation? More than likely, it would involve the Rams' second-round pick along with a player (maybe Adam Carriker?). It is highly doubtful that such a trade would involve their first-round pick.
The timing of the story just happened to coincide with Andy Reid's concession that yes, the Eagles are entertaining offers for their quarterbacks, and Donovan McNabb announcing he understands the situation and simply hopes it's resolved quickly. Somebody at WFAN in New York apparently connected the dots, and the speculation was officially under way.
Up to that point, that's all it was. It didn't matter that nobody credible was reporting it though, or that Rams sideline reporter and ESPN radio personality Brian Stull was refuting it very early on. The news grew legs quickly, and there was no stopping it by the time the Inquirer's Jeff McLane got a hold of it. His sources initially verified something was in the works, but apparently have since backed off.
The popular consensus is we were all taken for a ride. The Eagles were obviously interested in generating trade talk, otherwise they would not have changed their stance in such a public manner. By quietly confirming a few highly speculative reports, they were able to create a sense of urgency, for however brief a period, where one did not previously exist. Whether it was of any benefit to them or not, who knows.
Some people are still suggesting there was smoke, so there must be fire, and they might be right too. Despite the strong denials coming out of St. Louis, it's plausible they were close to a deal, but Donovan's contract demands were the final sticking point and caused everything to fall apart. His value plummets as soon as reaching an extension becomes a problem, an often overlooked piece of the puzzle.
And maybe talks aren't finished at all. The most surprising part of this entire thing was the speed at which the Eagles went from finally acknowledging they need to make a trade, to a deal could happen any minute. That's a lot of business for one day—reaching an agreement on a compensation package involving picks and players for a franchise QB, then negotiating an extension. You might even call that timeline unrealistic.
There's no telling what is true at the moment. Could the fact that Bleacher Report and talk radio mentioned it first be a coincidence, or was the chatter used as a diabolical means by the Eagles to promote their own agenda? Better yet, are quality reporters like McLane actually on to something that all the denials in the world couldn't cover up: McNabb is close to becoming a member of the St. Louis Rams?
Either way, things are finally getting interesting.