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Kolb Traded, Reid Vindicated

Kevin Kolb got rich, the Cardinals got fleeced (or so some believe), and as it turns out, Andy Reid is a personnel wizard… sort of. Let’s break down the trade.

Before we begin, I guess I owe an explanation for my extended absence. Take your pick; lousy economy, slow sporting news, travel, gluttony, inability to translate Women’s World Cup excitement into words. They’re all to blame. But I’m here now, and that’s what matters most.

Back to Kolb and the trade that sent him to the desert, literally.

First, I have mixed feelings. Obviously, Michael Vick has to be the starter until the wheels fall off or he’s wrapped up in a cock-fighting ring. Regardless of Vick’s meteoric rise last year, I still hoped to see Kolb under center at some point in the future. Oh well. It made sense to trade him now instead of losing him for nothing in a year. There was zero chance of him signing here after this season unless Vick retired.

Second, seriously? Kevin Kolb? No offense to Kevin or anything, but when was the last time a fifth year quarterback, with only seven starts, was handed a five year deal worth over $60 million? The frenzy that has surrounded Kolb since March has been unbelievable. You’d think the Eagles were trading a bona fide franchise quarterback. I’m not at all saying Kolb can’t or won’t be a franchise quarterback one day. I am saying he isn’t one right now. He’s started seven games. SEVEN! Thrown 11 TDs and 11 INTs, completed just over 60% of his attempts and had a record of 3-4 in those starts. Oh yeah, Kolb’s five year deal worth up to $63.5 million puts him on par with Matt Ryan’s pay and ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, and Jay Cutler. That’s a lot of dough to a fifth year player who hasn’t accomplished anything.

Third, Kevin Kolb owes the Eagles a lot of gratitude. Sure, he never really got his chance to take over the franchise after Clay Matthews buried his head into the ground 27 minutes into the 2010 season, but still. The Eagles made him filthy rich. In addition to a hefty one-year extension heading into last season, the Eagles, most notably Andy Reid (a respected opinion on QBs throughout the league), preached far and wide about Kolb’s talents and endless potential. Did Reid do so to prepare for this day? Of course not. He, like everyone else, expected Kolb to be his man under center. Even Reid couldn’t have imagined Vick would return to this level of greatness.

Reid’s opinion of Kolb, and two solid years of public butt kissing, elevated Kolb’s status throughout the NFL, despite minimal success on the field. Yes, Kolb had some great games (Chiefs in ’09, Falcons in ’10), but he had some ugly bombs, too (Packers to start the ’10 season, and against the Cowboys to close it). Like I said, Kolb owes some of his good fortune to Andy Reid and the Eagles.

Fourth, although it may currently appear the Cardinals overpaid, it’s a deal that could pay huge dividends down the line, perhaps even this season. Don’t be surprised if three years from now we’re calling this a steal in the Cardinals’ favor.

Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. You don’t win Superbowls without a franchise quarterback (unless you have a ferocious, out-of-this-world defense, and even that isn’t enough sometimes). Arizona HAD to make this deal. The alternative was to blow everything up, hope to land the top pick in the draft, and essentially waste the prime of Larry Fitzgerald’s career. Drafting a franchise QB isn’t an exact science, either. In fact, most teams fail more often than not.

Would you rather pay $60+ million to a semi-experienced NFL quarterback who, at the very least, will be a solid starting quarterback and possibly bloom into a franchise quarterback? Or, pay $60+ million to a rookie who may or may not be out of the league and strung out on cough syrup in three years?

The Cardinals took the safer, wiser route that offered dividends sooner than the alternative. It was the right call. I believe in Kolb. He simply needs time. Working alongside an all-world receiver won’t hurt, either.

Fifth, the Eagles deserve credit for flipping a second round pick for a second round pick and a borderline Pro-Bowl cornerback. While Andy Reid certainly has his flaws, he has performed exceptionally well when it comes to managing the quarterback position. Let’s review.

Reid drafted McNabb when the entire city wanted Ricky Williams. He took a beating for drafting the unheralded Kevin Kolb in the second round in the midst of McNabb’s prime. Despite public outcry, Reid brought in the much-maligned Michael Vick.

He then traded McNabb before his value fell off the map, getting quality assets in return. Reid also touted Kolb as the NFL’s next great quarterback before shipping him off for the aforementioned resources once he learned Vick was his meal ticket.

To recap: Moving out; old, disgruntled veteran (McNabb), and solid NFL starter, maybe more (Kolb). Moving in; two 2nd round picks, a 4th round pick, starting cornerback with Pro-Bowl potential, and an MVP candidate at quarterback. So yeah, you could say Reid “did a nice job there.”

Now, what happens three years from now (if not sooner) when Vick can no longer walk and Vince Young is the heir apparent at quarterback?

Uhh…

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