The Washington Redskins made their annual foray into the aging but well known veteran's market this off season by adding Donovan McNabb. The Redskins overpaid for McNabb by giving up a 2nd round pick in this year's draft (37th overall) and either a 3rd or 4th round pick in next year's draft. Just to put that cost in perspective a little, if this were the NBA draft, that would be equivalent to giving up the 10th and 26th picks in the first round for an aging veteran.
Part of the problem with Donovan, is not just that he is aging and past his prime, but that he is declining faster than other QBs. The graphic below compares McNabb and Manning at equivalent ages on Adjusted Yards per Attempt. Both players will be 34 during the 2010-11 NFL season, and their AYPA are projected until they are 36. While it comes as no surprise that Manning has been a more efficient QB throughout his career, what is important about this projection, is that we can see that Manning's decline is slower (the line is less steep) than McNabb's. What this means is that while we can expect to see Manning continue to perform at a high if not exceptional level, we can also expect McNabb's performance to drop significantly within the next two years.
Perhaps it is the injuries that have caused McNabb to have an accelerated decline, or perhaps his style just does not hold up as well with age, we just don't know. Whatever it is, the Redskins have given away two picks that could potentially be significant contributors for years to come, for a rapidly aging player that will not be able to perform at near his peak. On the plus side though, Synder will be able to sell a lot more McNabb jerseys.