Bills' pursuit of McNabb was inspired

The Buffalo Bills deserve credit for thinking big.

They failed in their quest to acquire quarterback Donovan McNabb, but Bills fans should be thrilled their front office at least tried something that bold.

The Philadelphia Eagles traded McNabb to the Washington Redskins on Easter night for a second-round pick in this year's draft plus a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft.

We don't know exactly what the Bills were offering. The Redskins' second-round pick was the 37th overall, four slots better than the Bills' second-rounder. But the Bills might have sweetened the deal with additional picks or players.

But the Bills couldn't swing the deal because McNabb was unwilling to sign an extension. He's entering the final year of his contract, and trading away assets for a veteran who'd be around for one unhappy season would have been ludicrous.

Multiple reports state McNabb simply didn't want to play for the Bills or the Oakland Raiders.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reports the Bills and Raiders had the two best offers on the table just last week. Yahoo! Sports writer Jason Cole reports the Bills were willing to offer McNabb an extension, but he wasn't interested.

While McNabb's rejection certainly was influenced by the Bills' dysfunction during a long decade without a playoff appearance, it shouldn't be a reflection of their current front office.

Rookie general manager Buddy Nix and new head coach Chan Gailey identified a need and went after one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the league, a five-time Pro Bowler with 216 career touchdown passes and 100 interceptions.

Their pursuit of McNabb was inspired and far more significant to the franchise's potential well-being than the splash they made with one-and-done diva receiver Terrell Owens last year.

Nix and Gailey repeatedly declined to publicly reveal their depth chart, insisting Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm are interchangeable at this point. But Nix and Gailey also have mentioned multiple times they're on the lookout for a fourth quarterback.

At the recent NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., Gailey noted he wanted to have his quarterback situation sorted out before the draft, which begins April 22.

"You'd like to have everything settled before you went into the draft," Gailey said. "The problem comes if you don't solve an issue before the draft. Then you have to try and solve it in the draft. Then if you don't solve it before the draft or in the draft, now your back's to the wall and everybody knows it. That's a bind you get into. Now they can hold you up."

What do the Bills do now?

Drafting a quarterback becomes a greater possibility. The Bills hold the ninth overall pick, but they have so many needs. Maybe Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen still will be on the board, creating a difficult decision. If the Bills go with another position in the first round and hold off until the 41st pick to look at quarterbacks, then University of Florida icon Tim Tebow, Texas' Colt McCoy or Central Michigan Dan LeFevour might become an attractive option.

Jason Campbell automatically becomes a possibility. He's a restricted free agent with a first-round tender, so an offer sheet is unlikely. But a trade could be worked out because he's not needed in Washington anymore.

Some unrestricted free agents: Kyle Boller, Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown, Patrick Ramsey and Chris Simms. Other getable restricted free agents: Kellen Clemens and Troy Smith.

And, for the record, J.P. Losman's still out there.

Regardless of where the Bills find that fourth quarterback, it's impressive to know they aimed for McNabb.

If this is how Bills fans can expect their team to operate under their new front office, then there's genuine reason to get excited.