By Justin Adkins:
At least three teams are interested in trading for Kevin Kolb, says ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
It’s not exactly a stretch to predict that teams will go after Kolb as the Eagles have committed to Michael Vick as their starter and indicated Kolb could be available at the right price. Many NFL teams, as usual, have a need at quarterback so phones will be ringing.
Kolb has shown the ability to play at a high level and is just hitting his prime so increased trade interest is a given. Trading for a still-young veteran quarterback who has flashed star potential is generally a better idea than spending a high pick on the position since the draft is such a crapshoot, with the b-word lurking behind every selection. Unless you’re a team staring at a can’t-miss prospect at the top of the draft, of which there are none this year thanks to Andrew Luck remaining at Stanford, a trade for an established quarterback should always be considered. And that’s not mentioning the fact that guys like Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell were top-of-the-draft, can’t-miss prospects as well. And really, it’s usually only the team with the first pick that gets a crack at the very top guy, so even if Luck was in this draft, the demand for franchise quarterbacks is still greatly outweighed by the supply.
The reason we don’t see this type of trade discussion more often is simply that this scenario just doesn’t happen. When teams find a quarterback who can play they don’t usually entertain the idea of trading him as he enters his prime. QB-needy teams are now in a fairly unique position of potentially securing the services of a player that can step in and start from day one without dealing with rookie-type issues. With the win-now culture in the NFL that is tremendously valuable.
So teams debating whether to actively pursue the short-lived Eagles starter isn’t really a story, as all teams who need a quarterback should at least be considering the option. Schefter however implies that some teams more than others are further along in the trade discussion process, but he won’t name who they are.
So let’s speculate.
Arizona Cardinals — The Cardinals quarterback situation is a wreck. They have Derek Anderson, who is likely getting cut, leaving second year players John Skelton and Max Hall, who both showed in 2010 that they are likely career clipboard-carriers at best. Arizona has many needs to fill after seeing a number of talented free agents depart following the 2009 season, but it all starts at the top.
Now, the Cardinals hold the fifth pick in the draft, and they will not be giving that up for Kolb alone. But the Eagles are unlikely to settle for a second-rounder, even a high one like Arizona has. A possibility could be a package of Kolb and the Eagles own first-round pick, number 23, for Arizona’s number five. Teams don’t normally move from the top five to the 20’s, but if a quarterback the Cardinals like isn’t there at five, it would be smart to trade back in the first and secure the services of a veteran like Kolb, who is pretty much a safer option anyway.
A Kolb plus 23 for five deal would put Kolb’s value at around the 17 or 18 spot in the first round, based on the NFL’s draft pick value chart. And while some may view that as high, it should be viewed as fair for a team that is hesitant to take a risk on a high pick quarterback who is just as likely to bust out of the NFL as become a star. That said, the Eagles would probably have to include another pick as well, at least a fourth rounder, or maybe next year’s third.
For the Eagles, that deal would be killer because they would get a top five pick and still have their second rounder. The latter could be used on an offensive lineman, specifially a right guard, which would work well value-wise since there really isn’t a top-5 worthy offensive tackle in this draft. It wouldn’t make sense to address the O-line need at five, but there are definitely other players that would be available to fill other, equally glaring needs.
Players such as LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson if he falls out of the top four (fingers crossed, Eagles fans), or one of the stud defensive tackles in Auburn’s Nick Fairley or Alabama’s Marcel Dareus. Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara could also make sense there. Or the team could could get really crazy and take possibly the safest player in the draft, one who could have an immediate impact and provide an identity to a defense that desperately needs it — Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.
OK, we know that’s crazy talk. It’s well known the Eagles would never spend that high a pick on a lowly linebacker. Unfortunately.
San Francisco 49ers — Not long after being hired, new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team’s quarterback of the future was not currently on the team. With Alex Smith a bust and needing a fresh start somewhere else if he ever hopes to resurrect anything resembling a career, and the painfully average Troy Smith not even being offered a restricted free agent tender, it’s safe to say that San Francisco is targeting a quarterback.
Sitting at the number seven pick in the first round, there’s a good chance that both Missiouri’s Blaine Gabbert and Auburn’s Cam Newton will be off the board. The next tier of quarterbacks, including Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett and Washington’s Jake Locker, pose even more risk, so why not swing a deal for a player like Kolb?
To get to seven, the Eagles would have to give up almost as much as they would to the Cardinals at five, but not quite. Kolb plus 23 would be the starting point, with at least another pick involved, probably a fifth rounder. That still leaves the Eagles with plenty of picks to fill their myriad holes.
At seven, they could look at Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara (Peterson will almost definitely be gone), who would immediately start opposite Asante Samuel. If he’s off the board or they don’t want to spend that high a pick on him, the Eagles could hope that one of the star defensive tackles, Auburn’s Nick Fairley or Alabama’s Marcel Dareus falls out of the top six. In that case, it’s likely bye-bye to one or even both of their under-achieveing former first round picks Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. The Eagles have a nice find in former undrafted free agent Antonio Dixon, and pairing him with either Fairley or Dareus would be a tremendous upgrade from the Painfully Average Brothers.
Tennessee Titans — The Titans quarterback situation is nearly as bad as the Cardinals and 49ers. The team has already said that former starter Vince Young will be traded or cut (read: cut), aging veteran Kerry Collins is an impending free agent, meaning the only other option on the roster is Rusty Smith. Exactly.
Tennessee holds the number eight pick in the first round, and it’s likely the Eagles may be less willing to package their own first with Kolb as they farther away from the top of the draft. To get to the top ten though, they may be able to add their own second round pick along with maybe next year’s second as well. Even then, that may not be enough for the Titans to move out of the first round, but again, how desperate are they? Looking at their situation, they should be scrambling like the bar lights just went on level-desperate. Kolb would look great throwing to Kenny Britt and handing off to Chris Johnson.
And with this proposed deal, the Eagles get to keep number 23, so not only can they target a corner like Amukamara at eight, they can still grab a quality offensive tackle, possibly Wisconsin mauler Gabe Carimi, a Runyan-clone, later in the round. Instant impact for a team that desperately needs a talent injection.
Minnesota Vikings — The stench of Brett Favre’s final season will be lingering in Minnesota for quite a while, but at least the Vikings are smart enough to acknowledge they are moving on, not allowing the over-exposed drama queen to infect their offseason. But unfortunately, their quarterback situation still isn’t pretty. Former second-round pick (who went at least three rounds too early) Tarvaris Jackson is a failed remnant of the Brad Childress era, a player who Childress saw as the next Donovan McNabb but who never came close. Jackson almost certainly will leave as a free agent once free agency finally begins. Then there’s Joe Webb, a talented athlete and college quarterback who is likely better served trying to make a career as a receiver, the position he was drafted as.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said a few weeks ago that he wants to find the next Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco this offseason, but with Minnesota picking at the number twelve spot in the first round, that’s not happening. There may not even be a Ryan or Flacco-level quarterback talent in this draft, and the two closest possibilities, Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, should be long gone. The Vikings could take a risk and draft a guy like Jake Locker, who has great talent and upside but is a considerable bust-risk.
Minnesota would be much better served swinging a deal for Kevin Kolb, an already established veteran who step into an situation on a team that has all the pieces in place to compete at a Super Bowl-level — except at quarterback.
So if the Eagles were to throw in a second rounder and maybe a fourth or fifth to go with Kolb, a deal for the Vikings pick at twelve could make a lot of sense. And picking in that spot would really open up the Eagles’ options value-wise. They could reach a bit and grab a potential stud with character concerns in Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, a 6-2, 211 pound specimen that ran a 4.38 at the combine. Or if somehow Amukamara was still on the board, they could set the record for fastest card-to-the-commissioner. If not the corners, the Eagles could look at offensive tackles like Colorado’s Nate Solder or Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, and if they’re gone reaching a bit for Carimi, Mississippi State’s Derrek Sherrod or USC’s Tyron Smith, then take Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey at 23, which would basically solve almost the entire offensive line problem in one round. If the Eagles could then find a way to open the purse a bit for free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, life would be good.
Miami Dolphins — The sting of the AJ Feeley deal still probably burns them up in Miami worse than the South Beach sun on a ginger’s bare bottom, so while it would make sense for the Dolphins to pursue Kolb, it probably won’t happen.
OK, that’s five teams, but Schefter did say “at least three”, so our math isn’t totally wrong.
Of course, this would all be moot if the NFL labor issue drags on through the draft. In that scenario, it’s almost 100% guaranteed that Kolb remains with the Eagles in 2011.
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