With skeptics abound, Kevin Kolb will succeed in Arizona
Kevin Kolb has been better than his career statistics so far have shown
Kolb's contract might seem pricey, but it's the going rate for a good starting QB
Kolb's smarts and leadership will benefit a team that needs a positive influence
When the Cardinals and Eagles finally consummated the Kevin Kolb trade, several NFL experts questioned why Arizona gave up so much for a quarterback with seven career starts. Arizona sent starting cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philadelphia and reportedly rewarded Kolb with a five-year, $63 million contract and $21 million guaranteed.
The Kolb backlash is surprising because very few people had a problem when Philadelphia got rid of Donovan McNabb and handed the starting job to Kolb before the 2010 season. The Eagles took a much bigger risk -- letting go of a potential Hall of Famer for Kolb -- than Arizona is by giving up a draft pick and a defensive player they weren't fully committed to.
Here are five common misconceptions about the Kolb trade and why the deal makes so much sense for the Cardinals:
Misconception 1: Kolb doesn't have good numbers
Kolb has 11 TDs and 14 INTs in his career, and compiled just 7 TDs and 7 INTs last season. But you have to discount Kolb's Week 17 meltdown against the Dallas Cowboys last season, when he threw three picks in an ugly 14-13 loss. With their playoff spot secured, the Eagles surrounded Kolb with second- and third-teamers and put no thought into their gameplan. Kolb's receivers made a few big drops and the wheels fell off quickly.
The Cardinals obviously ignored this game and focused on his starts against Atlanta and San Francisco. Arizona got beat handily by both the Falcons and Niners last season and had to be impressed by tape of Kolb picking them apart. Kolb completed 44 of 60 passes for four touchdowns and just one interception in the two wins.
Misconception 2: The Eagles have become experts at flipping ineffective QBs for high draft picks
Philadelphia famously ripped off Miami by exchanging quarterback A.J. Feely for a second-round pick in 2004. They received second- and fourth-round picks for McNabb from the Redskins last season. But both situations are very different from the Kolb trade.
Feely was a fifth-round pick out of Oregon, had benefited from being in Andy Reid's system and wasn't going to work elsewhere. Kolb was a high second-round pick (No. 36) and would have been a starter elsewhere by now if he hadn't landed in Philly. Other teams had been monitoring Kolb since before the Eagles committed to him as a starter.
The McNabb trade turned out to be a bad deal for the Redskins, but that had more to do with what was going on in Washington than anything wrong with the veteran quarterback. Mike Shanahan didn't have his system in place yet and never wanted McNabb to be the man running it.
Misconception 3: There was no competition for Kolb
The Seahawks signed Tarvaris Jackson and the Dolphins showed no interest in Kolb, so Arizona appeared to be the only team after Kolb. But keep in mind Kolb was also very valuable to the Eagles. Given his druthers, Reid would probably feel most settled going into this season with Michael Vick starting and Kolb right behind him. Vick's style of play makes him an injury risk, and even though new Eagles backup Vince Young is a former Pro Bowl quarterback, he doesn't know Reid's offense as well as Kolb does.
Kolb repeatedly said this offseason that Reid was "going to do right by him," meaning trading him somewhere he'd have a chance to start and sign a new contract. Kolb wanted out. Philadelphia didn't start this ball rolling.
Misconception 4: The Cardinals are overpaying for Kolb
Kolb was due just over $1 million this season, since he was finishing up a two-year contract extension with the Eagles. A team can't go into camp with its starting quarterback making less than special teams players, so they had to get a deal done quickly. While $21 million guaranteed sounds like a lot, it's in line for a good starting quarterback in the NFL. The Cardinals look at acquiring Kolb as a fresh start and want to build a positive atmosphere. If they had low-balled him, it would have been uncomfortable. And what if Kolb excelled and was a free agent after this season? He wouldn't be going back to Arizona.
Teams have to pay young quarterbacks on potential, because other teams don't let star quarterbacks hit free agency. The Cardinals would love to spend that money on Drew Brees, but that's never going to happen.
Misconception 5: The Cardinals could have brought in a veteran
Arizona presumably could have made a move for Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger as a stopgap to help them mentor youngsters Max Hall and John Skelton. But if you saw Hall and Skelton last year, the only thing a mentor can do for them is make them a better placeholder on field goals. They're not destined to lead the Cardinals anywhere.
One of the reasons the Cardinals like Kolb is his personality. Going back to the University of Houston, Kolb has gained a reputation as a leader. That's why no one in Philly was upset when the Eagles let McNabb go. Kolb had already won over that locker room. And Kolb showed a lot of class by putting the team first after he lost his job to Michael Vick.
Kolb is also very savvy when it comes to Xs and Os. He has a lot of outside interests, including an obsession with fishing and hunting, but when you get him in front of a white board, he can break down offenses with any other quarterback in the league. He'll pick up Ken Whisenhunt's offense quickly and become an instant leader in the locker room.