I can still remember how I felt when I heard the news that Donovan McNabb was being traded to the Washington Redskins. McNabb had been the QB for 11 years, and had grown to be one of my favorite players. Ironically, I was also headed to Washington D.C on that Sunday Night. I wasn’t going there to be a member of the Washington Redskins; I was going for the Phillies Season opener the following day. I remember the flood of texts I began to receive as the reality of the moment hit home. But I knew there was no time to sulk, a second round pick was not bad value for an aging quarterback. And hopefully we already had our new franchise quarterback already on the roster. That man was not supposed to Michael Vick, it was Kevin Kolb. Now less than a year after the keys of the franchise where given to Kolb, his name has started to come up in trade rumors.
I don’t remember the last time it has happened or if has ever happened, that a team has traded their opening game starting QB in back to back off-seasons. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to take a big leap and assume that the new CBA will be in place by March 3rd and the 2011 offseason will go on as usual. So the first thing you might be thinking is what type of quarterback Kevin Kolb can be. There have been a lot of people who tried to compare Kolb to Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. I personally believe this is a major stretch, they are very different quarterbacks. The only similarity that I see is that they both were high draft picks and were forced to sit on the bench for a few years until they got there shot. Prior to the 2005 draft, there were many scouts who had Rodgers as the number 1 QB in the draft, ahead of eventually number 1 overall pick Alex Smith. It may have been the shock of the draft when he fell the whole way to 24, where the Packers eventually drafted him. On the other hand, Kolb was taken with the 36th pick the 2007 draft, going into the draft Kolb was projected as a 3rd to 4th round pick.
Kevin can be a very good quarterback but he doesn’t have the arm strength or athleticism of an Aaron Rodgers. I believe that Kolb will never be an elite QB in the NFL, but he can still be a very good and successful one. If I was forced to pick the kind of player I believe Kolb can be, I would choose the Eli Manning/ Matt Cassel type. He will be considered just above the middle of the pack of NFL QB’s, somewhere in the 8-13 range. Kolb is a good enough player who can win you games, possibly even Super Bowls, he can make a few pro bowls, but he is not going to be the type of player who can put a team on his back. He lacks elite arm strength but can be very successful with quick short passes. Kolb could thrive in a type of system like the original west coast offense.
Here is a video I found about the Eagles quarterback situation last season, its entertaining!
I don’t think the timing could be better for the Eagles to trade a QB. There are a lot of teams that are in need of a one right now and the draft is void of any elite prospect. I looked over the QB situations of the 32 teams; I found that there are 7 teams who have a huge need for a QB. Those teams are the Bills, Cardinals, Panthers, Dolphins, Vikings, Raiders and 49ers. There are also 6 more teams who might consider acquiring a QB in the offseason, those teams are the Browns, Broncos, Jaguars, Seahawks, Bengals, and Titans. Teams like the Browns and Broncos are not likely to trade for a QB because of recent draft picks, but with a new regime in Denver. You never know how they will feel about Tim Tebow.
Now that we know that Kolb will be in high demand this offseason. What kind of return should we expect to get for Kevin? That is a very tough question because a players worth is only what another team is willing to give up for him. And since I don’t know anyone in the front offices of those teams, we will never really know until a trade happens. But we can look at past trades of QB’s and compare Kolb to them. Last offseason, Seattle traded for Chargers Backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. They traded a 2010 second round pick (40th overall) and a 2011 third round pick for Whitehurst and a 2010 second round pick (60th overall). When you break that down, it amounts to a mid second round pick. Another recent trade of a young quarterback was when the Bears traded for Jay Cutler, They traded 2 first round picks, 1 third round pick and Kyle Orton. What does this all mean for the Eagles? I would guess that Kolb’s value is somewhere in the middle of those. I truly believe his value is somewhere around a late 1st, 4th and a conditional 2012 draft pick.
So now you are thinking, what and where will Kolb ultimately be traded this offseason. The top 2 possible destinations for Kolb I believe are the 49ers or the Cardinals. They are both potential playoff teams if they acquire a solid quarterback. But I believe the Browns could be the sleeper in this contest. They did just spend a draft pick on Colt McCoy and he did have some flashes in his rookie campaign. But the Browns current GM Tom Heckart was in the draft room when the Eagles took Kolb. In the end I expect Kevin Kolb to be the Cardinals Starting quarterback next season. Since they have the 5th pick in the upcoming draft, I would doubt they would be willing to part with that for Kolb alone. Here is what I believe the trade would include. The Eagles would receive the 5th pick, and a conditional 2012 3rd round pick, the Cardinals would receive Kevin Kolb and the Eagles 1st round pick (23rd). Depending where the market is for Kolb in the offseason, there might some other late round picks thrown in on either side, but I would expect this to be the framework of a deal. I also believe that if the Eagles are not offered at least a high 2nd, they will have no problem keeping Kolb as the backup for another season.
Why would the Cardinals give up that high a draft pick for a “backup” QB? I believe it is a combination of money and risk. With the current rookie pay scale, a QB draft 5th overall would demand A LOT of guaranteed money. Without giving any exact percentages, I think the NFL QB success rate is about 50/50. The Cardinals already know what Kolb can bring to the table. In the end a very good quarterback right now, is worth more than a potential elite QB in 3 years. Assuming there is going to be 2011 season, it will be the 3rd consecutive season the Birds will have a different “franchise” quarterback. Hopefully the Eagles and Vick are able to agree to a long term extension at some point. This would give the Eagles the opportunity to get a defensive play maker that they desperately need. In the end I think this trade is a win win for both teams.