First of all, let me say this: it’s hard to imagine that any team in the NFL has been more negatively impacted by the lockout than the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only are the Eagles stranded with the most valuable trading chip in the league, but Andy Reid chose this offseason to conduct the most dramatic re-shuffling of his coaching staff in his 11 years in Philadelphia. After firing defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, Reid replaced almost every defensive assistant including defensive line coach Rory Segrest, linebackers coach Bill Shuey and secondary coach Dick Jauron (who left for Cleveland to be the DC — good luck with that). Oh yeah, and Reid hired his longtime offensive line coach to be defensive coordinator. This offseason was, and still is, the most important in recent Eagles history. Bad timing, I guess.
Now to Kevin Kolb. With the Draft well behind us, Kolb has become the center of the Eagles universe. Will he go? And if so, where and when?
Here’s my take on the “when.” It’s my firm belief that the lockout will be lifted along with the signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before the start of the 2011 NFL season. I would be shocked if this didn’t take place before the start of the preseason. Both sides can play hardball in the summer when no games are played and more importantly, no money is lost. The owners now have some leverage with their recent victory in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and I expect them to try and spin that into positive PR by working aggressively towards a new deal. That means putting together a number of actual proposals to the players in the coming weeks. With no leverage whatsoever, the players (aka DeMaurice Smith) may feel the time has come to try and save face before they start losing money and look like fools. The point? I expect that Kevin Kolb will be able to be traded before the start of the 2011 season.
Now the question is where. Here’s how The Morning After handicaps the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes.
Washington Redskins: 150-1
There’s never a dull moment in D.C., and this week was no different when some guy named John Beck said he was happy that Donovan McNabb and the Shanahans had a falling out (I know who Beck is, but when you haven’t completed a pass since 2007 that’s how you get introduced). News flash to Beck: if you think that Donovan McNabb not being in Washington makes your path to NFL stardom any easier, you’ve got some disappointment on the horizon. There’s no doubt that Washington needs a quarterback, but there’s no way the Eagles give them two in a row.
Oakland Raiders: 85-1
Are they a serious player? No. But with the Raiders, you always have to throw them into the mix. Jason Campbell has a good, young supporting cast and the backing of owner Al Davis, but you just never know in Raider Nation. Oakland couldn’t be completely uninterested in the prospect of a young franchise quarterback to put along side their nice collection of young, offensive talent. A sign and trade with Nnamdi Asomugha? Probably not, but it makes the list.
Seattle Seahawks: 25-1
Now we’re getting serious. The Seahawks are one of two NFC West teams that have a desperate need at quarterback. Charlie Whitehurst has two career touchdown passes and a 1-1 record as a starting quarterback — not exactly the experience you’d want out of a 29-year-old signal caller. And he’s not very good. Hasselbeck could return to Seattle, although some wonder whether he’ll do so without a guaranteed role as the starting QB. Either way, the main problem here is compensation. The Eagles will likely want help in 2011 in addition to draft picks in 2012. I don’t see much help on the Seahawks roster.
Miami Dolphins: 23-1
There’s only one reason why the Dolphins leapfrog the Seahawks — they reside in the AFC. Neither team has much to offer in the way of compensation (would the ‘Fins be willing to deal Cameron Wake? Almost definitely not). And both teams are in the market for a quarterback (Chad Henne isn’t going to help HC Tony Sparano keep his job). If the Eagles got two nearly identical offers from both Miami and Seattle, they would chose Miami. And I have a hard time seeing how Seattle could put forth a serious offer.
Arizona Cardinals: 6-1
No one is in worse shape at the quarterback position than Arizona. John Skelton and Max Hall are below average quarterbacks in the NFL (neither completed more than half of their pass attempts last season). With Larry Fitzgerald patiently (for now) waiting for someone to get him the ball, the Cardinals must find a better answer at QB in 2011. While in desperate need at quarterback, the Cardinals do have some talent at cornerback — a position the Eagles certainly need to upgrade. Kevin Kolb for Patrick Peterson? Almost certainly not. But Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and 2012 Draft compensation? That sounds more likely. Heck, it sounds pretty good. The only problem here is that Arizona is in the NFC, and if the Eagles love Kevin Kolb as much as they say they do, that might be a deterrent. Still, if he leaves Philadelphia, the Cardinals are the favorite.
Philadelphia Eagles: 3-1
As I said, there are but a few teams, if any, that were hurt more by this lockout than the Eagles. In a normal offseason, Kevin Kolb would have been long gone and the Eagles would have had two first round picks (and then some) in last month’s NFL Draft. But here we are, and now the Eagles must decide what compensation is worth losing the league’s best backup quarterback when you’re built to win right now and have a starting quarterback that hasn’t played a full season without injury since 2006. Could he be traded if the lockout is lifted? Sure. I would hope that he is. But unless the Eagles get tangible help in 2011, which means a solid veteran, and draft picks in 2012, I say Kolb stays right here. And all the insurance in the world won’t repay the Eagles for what they could have gotten in a normal offseason.
That is, unless Kevin Kolb is hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis. While wearing green, of course.