Friday, August 29, 2008

QB Josh McCown traded to Panthers

Although the Dolphins have spent recent weeks shopping second-year quarterback John Beck around the league, it was veteran Josh McCown who was given the first ticket out of town. A day before final cuts, the Dolphins traded McCown to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick in 2009.

Background

A third-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 out of Sam Houston State, McCown played four seasons for the Cardinals through the 2005 season. He spent the 2006 season as a backup in Detroit before heading to Oakland in 2007. During the first six years of his career, he completed 57.9 percent of his passes for 6,582 yards and 35 touchdowns along with 40 interceptions.

An unrestricted free agent in 2008, McCown was signed by the Dolphins to a two-year, $6.25 million contract with $2.5 million guaranteed. He was expected to compete for the starting job with 2007 second-rounder John Beck, but the arrival of free agent Chad Pennington and emergence of rookie Chad Henne pushed McCown down the depth chart. He did not appear in the team's final three preseason games.

Analysis

McCown was brought in this offseason to provide a veteran presence on a team that had none at quarterback, but Chad Pennington was an upgrade in that department and therefore made McCown expendable. McCown would have been relegated to third string this season if he were to make the squad at all, so it is good the team was able to get something in return. The compensation is likely in the area of a conditional seventh-rounder, as is often the case with these types of deals. If McCown were to be cut by Carolina prior to the regular season, Miami would likely get nothing. (I do, however, expect McCown will earn a roster spot over Brett Basanez.)

Dolphins fans have to be happy with this move because the organization was able to get something in return for a player that could very well have been cut. While it is true the team did pay $2.5 million guaranteed to a player they kept exactly six months, the team has plenty of cap space and the money is really a non-issue.

The trade of McCown leaves the team with three quarterbacks: Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and John Beck. Pennington and Henne are entrenched in the top two spots on the depth chart. Meanwhile, Beck's status is not totally secure even with the departure of McCown. Beck will remain with the team beyond tomorrow's final cuts, but I expect the Dolphins will still try to deal Beck and pull the trigger if they get what they deem enough in return. It would not surprise me to see Beck moved sometime between now and the trade deadline (usually in mid-October), so that is something to keep an eye on.