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Clearing the air on the McNabb trade frenzy

Over the past few days, we’ve been sharing and reacting to the many reports regarding the status of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, a process that was sparked when coach Andy Reid said on Tuesday that other teams are “entertaining us with offers” regarding McNabb. Several of the reports from others in the media are a bit inconsistent, to say the least.

Our only original reporting in this regard focused on the fact that a Rams source privately said there was “no truth” to the report of an imminent trade for McNabb, several hours before G.M. Billy Devaney went on the record with Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and said that the report was in fact “utterly ridiculous” and “absolutely false.” (We also posted an uncorrborated tip that the Raiders were considering an offer of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for McNabb and cornerback Asante Samuel; the tip was partially corroborated by Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com.)

Now, we’ve got some more.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Eagles are receiving offers from teams that have not been identified publicly at the request of the teams making the offers. This is happening for two reasons: (1) some of the teams have incumbent starting quarterbacks who would be confused, to say the least, if they learned that McNabb could be joining the club; and (2) none of the teams want fans or the media to know that they are courting McNabb, in the event that they fail to land him.

This doesn’t explain the fact that the Bills, Rams, and Raiders have been named as potential trade partners. According to the source, however, the Eagles have disclosed to no one the names of the teams with whom they are or aren’t talking.

We initially believed that Jeff McLane’s erroneous report that McNabb could be a Ram by the end of the week was the Eagles themselves, who were floating a phony rumor in the hopes of sending a “speak now or forever hold your piece/peace” vibe to other interested teams. Based on our source, McLane apparently had a different source.

It’s possible that McLane’s source was McNabb himself, or agent Fletcher Smith. (McLane’s subsequent report that McNabb prefers playing for the Vikings suggests he has a pipeline into the McNabb camp.) This approach by McNabb would allow him to push the issue to a head without pulling a Jay Cutler and openly demanding a trade.

The McLane report isn’t the only nugget that might not reflect reality. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio says that no one is willing to offer more than a third-round pick. But as our source pointed out, “Has he talked to every team and have they told him their offer?”

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that McNabb told coach Andy Reid that he preferred staying put to joining the Bills or the Raiders, and McNabb’s agent thereafter said that McNabb has said nothing to the team. Though it’s possible that the agent is speaking with a sporked tongue, the discrepancy has largely been ignored.

Finally, the Associated Press reported that the Eagles want the 42nd pick or higher in the 2010 draft. (And, of course, the AP report was taken as gospel truth because the AP has never been wrong.) Said the source, “Does anyone really believe the Eagles would pick such a random number and draw a line in the sand?” We’re told that something higher than this reported threshold already has been offered. The source believes that the “42 or higher” requirement was leaked by one or more other teams in order to frame the value -- and possibly to create local pressure on the Eagles, many of whose fans generally are anxious, to say the least, to see McNabb get run out of town.

As we understand it, the Eagles have received a variety of offers, with draft picks only and players only and players and picks. We’re told that the Eagles have never placed an asking price on McNabb. Instead, they’re doing exactly what we reported in early March that they’d do -- sitting back and waiting for the offers to come and evaluating them at the appropriate time.

As we also understand it, the Eagles soon will review the proposals and decide whether to pursue any of them.

Though we’ll continue to post reports from other folks who follow the NFL for a living, it’s important to keep this broader context in mind. We’ll try to do so; we encourage you to do the same.