Cardinals make costly move for unproven Kolb

Posted July 28, 2011 @ 5:26 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

The Cardinals finally got themselves a new starting quarterback, but the price was high.

Kevin Kolb, the Eagles' backup QB behind Michael Vick who had been heavily rumored to be destined for the desert since late April, has been traded to Arizona in exchange for 2009 Pro Bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft choice.

According to both ESPN and FOXSports.com, Kolb, who had one year remaining on his contract, agreed to a new five-year deal with the Cardinals. ESPN's John Clayton reported the deal is for $63 million, with more than $22 million in guarantees. FoxSports.com's Adam Caplan reported the contract is for more than $63 million, with more than $20 million guaranteed to Kolb. The trade will not be official until Friday. Considered by most league observers to be the most attractive signal-caller on the free-agent-trade market, Kolb can't begin practicing with the Cardinals until Aug. 4.

The PFW spin

There were some league observers, including yours truly, who did not feel Kolb, who turns 27 next month, was the best option under center for the Cardinals. Denver's Kyle Orton, for instance, seems like a much more proven commodity who probably would have cost the Cardinals a lot less in money and compensation.

But there are many who maintain that Kolb, who turns 27 next month, has the strong arm and good mobility to become another Matt Schaub in the making. Kolb has displayed some impressive flashes, most notably his three-TD, 326-yard effort in a 31-17 Week Six win over Atlanta last season. One respected league personnel evaluator sees a real similarity between Kolb and Kurt Warner, whose exploits in the desert are likely to land him in Canton not too far down the road. Both Warner and Kolb, the evaluator noted, were shell-shocked backups in need of a change of scenery. The evaluator also believes Kolb is a good match with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who will simplify his scheme to get the most out of Kolb's considerable natural ability.

The Cardinals also made an excellent move within the last 24 hours agreeing to terms with former Packer Daryn Colledge, a smart, solid and very durable lineman who should be an upgrade at left guard over Alan Faneca, who was on his last legs before announcing his retirement not long after the season. Improved protection for Kolb is imperative, and Colledge, who got a bum rap by many observers, won't let Kolb down.

But don't forget that high price for Kolb's services. While Rodgers-Cromartie was coming off a disappointing 2010 season in which he too often lost focus and shied away from contact, he is a first-round talent who registered 13 interceptions the last three years. Can third-year pro Greg Toler effectively replace "DRC" opposite 2011 first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson? He does appear to have the necessary size and physicality. But it would not be a shock to see the Cardinals work the free-agent market for a veteran corner like, say, the Jets' Antonio Cromartie, who would fit nicely in Ray Rhodes' new scheme.

Another potential handicap facing Kolb is a depleted WR corps behind star Larry Fitzgerald following the free-agent defection of Steve Breaston to Kansas City. It will be up to injury-prone Early Doucet and promising but relatively unproven youngsters Andre Roberts and Stephen Williams to pick up the slack — unless the Cardinals also decide to go after a quick-study free-agent pass catcher.