Sports Outside the Beltway

Titans Trade Steve McNair to Ravens

The long-anticipated trade of veteran quarterback Steve McNair to the Baltimore Ravens is complete.

The Tennessee Titans ended their stalemate with quarterback Steve McNair on Wednesday and traded the former MVP to the Baltimore Ravens pending a physical. “We have granted permission to Baltimore to give Steve McNair a physical, which we expect to take place in the next 24 hours,” the team said in a statement. “Upon passing a physical, final trade terms will be agreed upon.”

McNair, who turned 33 in February, was the winningest quarterback in franchise history. In 11 seasons, he went 81-59 and led them to their only Super Bowl in 2000. He and Peyton Manning shared the league’s MVP award in 2003.

McNair won a grievance last week that allowed him to return to the team’s headquarters and work out after being told he couldn’t on April 3. The Titans had been trying to renegotiate a cheaper salary for McNair to lower a $23.46 million salary cap hit.

The Titans really had no choice here, given the ridiculous contract to which they had signed McNair. Joe Montana in his prime wouldn’t be worth $23.46 million.

John Clayton argues McNair makes the Ravens an instant playoff contender.

It took a while, but Steve McNair is headed to Baltimore for what is believed to be a fourth-round choice, which is a steal if the team makes the playoffs. The Ravens have had a standing contract offer for McNair since the second day of the 2006 draft, but it took until now for the Ravens and Titans to agree on a trade. Under the deal with the Ravens, McNair will get an $11 million signing bonus and a $1 million salary for this season. That is significantly better than the $9 million he was scheduled to make with the Titans, a team that wanted him to cut his salary in half to lower his cap number.

Owens going to Dallas might be the headline acquisition of the offseason, but McNair heading to Baltimore isn’t far behind. In many ways, McNair carries more weight than Owens because he’s a quarterback. If he’s healthy, you can pencil in two or three additional wins for the Ravens.

It’s no wonder the Titans made his exit the most painful in years. The Titans don’t want to hand a playoff spot to Baltimore by giving them McNair. There is still some bad blood between the two franchises. The Titans didn’t like comments made by Ravens coach Brian Billick prior to a 2000 playoff game. The Ravens didn’t appreciate those clips being shown on the big screen to inspire Titans fans during the game, which the Ravens won 24-10 on their way to winning Super Bowl XXXV.

What’s a shame is how McNair was treated. Without question, he was the league’s toughest player during his 10 years in Nashville. He endured about every possible injury. He’d miss practice yet he played like a Pro Bowler every Sunday. His career peaked with a trip to Super Bowl XXXIV, where he came within inches of forcing overtime against the Rams.

The sad part for the Titans and McNair is that he won’t retire in a Titans uniform. He wanted to, but his contract had a $50 million option bonus strategically inserted to spur negotiations this offseason between the two sides. But the timing for a new deal was all bad. Collective bargaining extension talks were stalled as the bonus came due. With the Titans not knowing how much the cap would grow for the 2006 season, they opted not to exercise the option, forcing McNair’s cap number for the 2006 season to shoot up to $23 million.

One would have thought the League and Players Union could have figured out how to move those deadlines back given the ongoing negotiations.

Len Pasquarelli
states the obvious: This officially makes the Kyle Boller draft a bust.

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