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 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Donovan McNabb isn't ready to trade in his helmet for broadcasting headphones. He's only 30 years old, has played in five Pro Bowls in eight seasons and led the Philadelphia Eagles to one Super Bowl appearance.
Still, it might be time the Eagles consider life after McNabb, especially since the quarterback has been prone to injury. McNabb has finished the regular season on the sidelines three times in four years, including a torn knee ligament in Week 11 last year. A sports hernia forced McNabb to miss the final seven games in 2005 and he sat out the last six games with a broken ankle in 2002 before returning for the playoffs.
Though the Eagles have more prominent needs on defense, it wouldn't be a complete surprise if the team selected a quarterback for the future in this weekend's NFL draft.
``If there's a quarterback you think is a franchise guy, common sense tells you to think about it,'' general manager Tom Heckert said. ``But where we're picking, the chance of somebody falling that far (is slim).''
The Eagles have the 26th pick in the first round. JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn will be long gone by then, and none of the other quarterbacks coming out are considered first-round prospects.
Trent Edwards (Stanford), Kevin Kolb (Houston), Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith (Ohio State), Drew Stanton (Michigan State), Isaiah Stanback (Washington) and John Beck (Brigham Young) each are projected to be drafted between the second and fourth rounds.
``I don't think we would take a guy unless we thought he had a chance to be a really good player,'' Heckert said. ``Just to take a guy as a backup, we wouldn't do that. If we took a guy in the next couple years, it would probably be a guy we feel really good about.''
The Eagles don't have a fourth-round pick this season because they traded it to New Orleans for wide receiver Donte' Stallworth last summer. However, it's possible they could trade down from the 26th spot and add a later pick that could be used on a quarterback.
Not all franchise quarterbacks are early-round choices. New England took Tom Brady in the sixth round in 2000. San Francisco drafted Joe Montana in the third round in 1979. Brady already has won three Super Bowls and Montana won four during his Hall of Fame career.
The Eagles are confident McNabb will return healthy from his knee injury and that A.J. Feeley is a capable backup. They also have veteran Kelly Holcomb on the roster. But McNabb won't play forever. So, adding a young quarterback that can be groomed as his eventual successor makes sense.
``Even last year, he was playing great until he got hurt,'' Heckert said of McNabb. ``He's got to stay healthy, but we're not concerned about his injuries. It's easy to sit here and say that the next four years, he's going to be a Pro Bowl player. I think talentwise, no doubt he's still a heck of a player.''
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