It has been the definitive question of the Eagles offseason- what to do with backup quarterback Kevin Kolb.
If the multiple reports that have come out all offseason are correct, then in all likely hood the decision to trade Kolb has already been made by the brain trust over at the NovaCare Complex.
But since the lockout has given the Eagles a long time to think about it, let’s pretend that they have not made up their mind, and our undecided what to do with the career backup. Once and for all, let’s settle the debate.
Should the Eagles trade Kevin Kolb?
Why they shouldn’t trade Kolb:
The reason to not trade Kevin Kolb is both simple and compelling: The Eagles are a win now team. With the offensive weapons on this team, the Eagles should be able to score enough points to be in any game this year. Michael Vick has talked about trying to protect his body as he gets older, but what makes him a great player is his ability to use his legs. Unfortunately that also comes with a high risk of injury. Vick has played 16 games in a season only once, and played only 12 games last year. That means that the chances are very high that at some point this season, the Eagles will need to call on a backup to win them an important game.
Kolb is a player that knows the offense, but more importantly, knows his teammates and has their respect. Kolb stepped in last season and won big games against the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles do not make the playoffs if they do not win those games. Although it is not viewed by many as such, the back up quarterback position is one of the most important in the NFL- and the Eagles have the best back up quarterback on their roster. Given the intangibles Kolb brings, it is safe to say any other player brought in to take Kolb’s place would be a downgrade- and downgrading a position is not something a team built to win now does.
Are the Eagles committed to Vick for the future? Everything they say would make you believe so, but in the NFL, money and contracts talk. And the Eagles made a statement when they decided to give Vick only a one year deal. Why would the Eagles risk making Vick’s payday even bigger next offseason if they were sure they wanted to give him a deal? Why go through another season of questions about Vick’s future if they were certain he was the future of the franchise?
Vick’s tendency to get hurt is a big reason behind the one year deal. What if Vick suffers a potentially career ending injury? Vick broke his leg before the 2003 season, which caused him to miss 11 games. Vick is now 7 years older, and how his body would react to a serious injury is unknown. The Eagles are taking a big risk by tying their future to Vick with no backup option in sight.
While Kolb has not been perfect in his 7 career starts, he has shown flashes at times. Kolb will only get better as he starts to play consistently, which is something he has had the luxury to do so far in his career. If the Eagles trade Kolb and loose Vick, they are now left without any plan at quarterback for next season or the future.
With the wealth of young talent on this team, taking a risk like that may not be an option.
Why they should trade Kolb:
If the Eagles decide to trade Kolb, it will be to better the team. While Andy Reid has told Kolb he will “take care of him”, Reid is running a team that is built to win now. No favors will be done by Reid to a quarterback who has started 7 games for him. Kolb will be traded if the Eagles get an offer they think makes the team better, if not, Kolb will spend another year on the bench.
What can Kolb net them that will help the Eagles? In the NFL, player for player trades that involve big names very rarely go down. While it is possible that the Eagles could net a player for Kolb, more then likely any compensation will come in the form of a draft pick. All rumors have pointed to that pick being in the first round.
First round picks are perhaps the most valuable commodity in the NFL, and are not thrown around for just anything. The fact that the new CBA will include a rookie wage scale will make the picks even more valuable, as they will not come with the big payday promised to the rookies that they used to.
The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are rumored to be most interested in Kolb, with teams such as the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins seen as teams that could jump into the mix. In last years draft, those teams picked 5th (Cardinals), 25th (Seahawks), 6th (Browns) and 15th (Dolphins). In theory, any team that acquires Kolb believes it will improve, thus lowering the value of the pick.
The Cardinals are the team that would most likely improve if they acquired Kolb, given the weapons they already have. But its hard to imagine teams like the Browns or Seahawks improving in the first year of what they would consider the Kolb experiment. The Dolphins are in the same division as the New England Patriots and New York Jets, so it’s unlikely this will be a playoff team even with the addition of Kolb. In addition, each of these franchises are traditionally losing franchises that draft high each year. Kolb is a young player who has never started 16 games, so although one day he may blossom into an NFL star, it is unlikely to happen in the first year. So any trade for Kolb that involves a first round pick is most likely going to net you a top 15 pick at the worst, with the potential to be a top 5 pick.
Will a top 15 pick help out your team more then Kolb will? If the Eagles don’t see him as the future of the franchise, then yes. While injuries always have the potential to change things, it is clear that Vick and not Kolb is viewed as the future of this team. With a top 15 pick, the Eagles have the chance to draft a player at a position of need that could help this team for a long time.
Could the Eagles use him as a backup? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, chances to acquire a first round pick for a backup player don’t come around very often. Taking an unproven player drafted with the 36th pick and turning him into a top 15 pick is a steal for the Eagles.
Final Verdict: At the end of the day, trading Kevin Kolb is the right thing to do if your the Eagles. The chances of Vick going down are very high, but Reid has shown the ability to plug in quarterbacks and win big games over the years.
Acquiring a first round pick while keeping your own puts the Eagles in a great situation going into next years draft- which is where Andy Reid, Joe Banner, and Howie Roseman believe a team is built. The Eagles have always gotten rid of players at the right time, and very rarely has it hurt them. Calculated moves have allowed them to remain competitive for so many years. Would losing Kolb hurt the team this year? Yes. Is trading him a risk? Yes.
But at the end of the day, it is a risk the team has to take.