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Tag:Kevin Kolb
Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:05 pm
 

Much has to happen for Manning to land with Cards

Could Whisenhunt and Manning share the same sideline in 2012? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Kevin Kolb was traded to the Cardinals almost six months ago. The team was in desperate need of something resembling a quarterback after Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton took turns looking completely lost in that capacity in 2010. At the time, we thought that Arizona gave up too much for Kolb. (They sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philly, then signed Kolb to a five-year, $63 million -- $20 million guaranteed -- contract extension.) As the regular-season progressed and Kolb struggled with consistency and injuries, Arizona came to the same conclusion.

Neither coaches nor front-office types came out and admitted it, but they didn't need to. Kolb played in nine games, missed seven more with injuries, and finished the season throwing for 1,955 yards (57.7 completion percentage), 9 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and taking 30 sacks.

By comparison, Skelton, the second-year backup made seven starts, threw for 1,913 yards (54.9 completion percentage), 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and took 24 sacks.

Statistically, not much difference between the starter and the guy behind him on the depth chart -- until you compare their salaries. According to Sportrac.com, Kolb counted $4,000,000 against the Cardinals' 2011 cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13); Skelton came in slightly less than that at $450,500.

It's understandable that the Cardinals might a) have reservations about Kolb's future and b) consider other options starting, well, now.

Arizona Republic beat reporter Kent Somers wrote Monday about the recent speculation that the Cardinals would have great interest in Peyton Manning should the Colts decide to move forward without him. CBS Sports' Charley Casserly mentioned this two weeks ago.

"One team to watch (should Manning become available)? The Arizona Cardinals," Casserly said at the time. "They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."

Somers is quite certain the Cards would be interested in Manning because "The entire NFL, minus the obvious few, will go after Peyton if the Colts dump him."

Fair point. Somers then went through the logistical gymnastics that would be required before an Arizona-Manning marriage could take place:
No. 1. Manning has to be healthy enough to play after missing 2011 with a neck problem. That's no small hurdle.

No. 2. The Colts must decide to release Manning. As Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wrote, Manning is due a roster bonus of $28 million on March 8. Kevin Kolb is due a $7 million roster bonus on March 17. For obvious reasons, releasing Manning would not be an easy decision for Colts owner Jim Irsay.

No. 3. If Manning is released, numerous teams will express interest. But how many of those places will be attractive to Manning. This is, I think, where the Cardinals could have an advantage. Throwing to Larry Fitzgerald has to be an attractive prospect. With Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, the Cardinals have two talented young running backs. There are questions on the offensive line, however. The Cardinals' defense was stout over the last half of the season. Under Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have proven they are willing to throw the ball and to mold their offense around the strengths of an older quarterback.
In general, investing heavily in guys on the downside of great careers isn't the most efficient way to sustain organizational success from one year to the next. But Whisenhunt had Warner fall into his lap and they were one play away from a Lombardi Trophy. If Arizona has the chance to land Manning, they have to dump Kolb and do it, right? Because based on what we saw in 2011, the alternative, in all likelihood, is neither efficient nor successful.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 5:00 pm
 

Could Browns be interested in RG3, Kolb?

McCoy's stint as Cleveland's starter may already be over. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Browns begin this offseason like most others: with plenty of questions at key positions and plenty of needs at others. Chief among them: quarterback.

Cleveland drafted Colt McCoy in the third round in 2010, team president Mike Holmgren's first year with the organization. Injuries forced McCoy onto the field as a rookie and despite the odds, he fared well. So well, in fact, that he appeared to have the job for 2011 and hopefully longer.

Instead, McCoy's sophomore season was a combination of an unoriginal offensive philosophy, a paucity of playmakers, and in the end, injuries. He didn't play the final three weeks of the season and first-year head coach Pat Shurmur was uninterested in committing to McCoy as the team's starter in 2012.

“As we go forward here with Colt, he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said according to wire reports. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop. I expect that Colt will improve just like I expect (backup) Seneca (Wallace) will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here. I think that can be said for all positions, so the best quarterback will play when we start the season.”


The Browns have the No. 4 and No. 22 picks in April's draft and it's reasonable to think that they'll seriously consider a quarterback. Andrew Luck is destined for Indianapolis, who'll take him first overall, but the next two teams -- the Rams and the Vikings -- drafted their franchise QBs in 2010 (Sam Bradford) and 2011 (Christian Ponder). Which means that, even with USC's Matt Barkley returning to school, Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor should be on the board. And Cleveland could be interested.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi writes that "I would not automatically eliminate the Baylor quarterback from consideration with the Browns' top pick simply because he is a product of the one-read, shotgun spread offense."

Not a ringing endorsement, but it's also January. A lot can change between now and late April. A lot can change between now and the start March too, when the Cardinals owe Kevin Kolb a $7 million roster bonus.

So why mention Kolb in the middle of a post about the Browns' quarterback needs? Yep, that's right -- should the Cards decide to cut their losses with Kolb after one season, Cleveland might be a potential landing spot.

And that prospect brings us back to Grossi:

"Baylor coach Art Briles was the coach at University of Houston when Kevin Kolb rolled up similar numbers -- without the rushing yards and touchdowns -- in the very same offense. … Kolb was a much better quarterback in the West Coast offense in which he was schooled in Philadelphia. Arizona doesn't run it. Also, Kolb was drafted by Philadelphia partly based on evaluations made by (Tom) Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur -- the Browns' top two football men. Heckert was the Eagles' general manager, though he didn't have final football authority, and Shurmur was the team's quarterbacks coach."

Kolb is one year into a five-year deal in Arizona that will pay him $63 million, including $20 million in guarantees. But a concussion and a toe injury limited him to just nine games in 2011 where he completed 57.7 of his passes for 1,955 yards, 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

We're not convinced Kolb is much of an upgrade over McCoy, and certainly not at starting-quarterback money. Which is why, at least at this early stage of the process, that RGIII could be the frontrunner. Unless, of course, the Browns draft Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot writes that the team "will likely take a hard look" at him, too.

Whatever happens, the organization has to nail this draft. With an extra first and fourth-rounder courtesy of the Falcons, and coming off a four-win season, Holmgren can turns things around quickly with the right players. Otherwise, the team's future will look a lot like its past and present.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 8:51 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 10:12 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Wild Card: Ranking Tebow

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Wild-Card Weekend recap below and don't forget to
subscribe via iTunes
.

Ranking the Remaining QBs

Are you ----ing kidding me? Did that just happen? That, of course, is Tim Tebow hitting Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard, walk-off touchdown in the first-ever game featuring the new NFL overtime rules to push Denver past Pittsburgh and into the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The lesson, as always? You're gonna want to have someone who can sling the rock when the playoffs roll around and Tebow somehow morphed into that in the first round of the playoffs against one of the all-time great defenses. But where does he rank with the rest of the quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs?

8. T.J. Yates, Houston Texans
With all due respect to the only former UNC quarterback to win a playoff game, he just doesn't stack up with the rest of the folks in the playoffs. That being said, he's a perfect fit for the zone-stretch offense that the Texans run, and as long as he doesn't have to do too much, he's fine. He's probably gonna have to do too much against the Ravens this week.

7. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Smith's been incredibly improved in 2011 so it's not like this is taking a potshot at him. Smith had his best season -- by far -- of his career, throwing just five picks and completing 61.3 percent of his passes. But you're telling me you're taking Smith if you need to win a game? No, no you're not.

6. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco's had great moments this year, but his inconsistency is absolutely terrifying. Seven times (seven!) he's gone under 200 yards passing on the season, and many times this year the Ravens have been forced to overcome his poor play. Some of those times, they just don't lean on Flacco because they have a beasty run game and a really good defense. But that's not exactly helping his cause, you know?

5. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos
COME ON DOWN THE OLD KOOL-AID FILLED RABBIT HOLE! But, no, seriously. Tebow made throws on Sunday night that he's not supposed to make. And he did it against a defense that doesn't let most quarterbacks make throws like that, much less a would-be remedial QB like Tebow. But he brings a running game, he brings an improved passing game, he brings along the worst wide receiver corps (by far) of anyone in the playoffs and he brings along the dreaded intangibles.

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants
Eli's a top-five quarterback in the NFL this season, and he's got a legitimate case to be right there in Tom Brady's class (just like he said before the season!). When it comes down to it, though, you're not taking him for a playoff stretch run over any of the rest of the guys on the list. At least not yet anyway ... (But yes, there's a HUGE gap between 1-4 and 5-8.)

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
People keep saying that Brady does the most with the least but that argument's kind of ridiculous when Rob Gronkowski just wrapped up the greatest season by a tight end in the history of the NFL. Three here, by the way, is like "1c."

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
The third quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in a playoff game.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Last I checked he's still the defending champion. Plus, he's got the mobility that no one else on this list (even Tebow) has, he's the most accurate quarterback on the run and he's working on a week's rest in addition to two weeks of hearing everyone talk about how he's not the best quarterback left in the playoffs.

Winners

Josh McDaniels: Not only is the former Broncos head coach and Patriots offensive coordinator now back with the Patriots but he's going to play against Tim Tebow next week. This is a good thing because McDaniels basically got fired for drafting Tebow. I mean, not entirely but it didn't help things. Doesn't everyone look kind of silly for not trusting him now.

T.J. Yates:
Yates was the rookie who was going to screw things up for his team, but instead he played the perfect foil to Andy Dalton's inconsistency, going 11 of 20 for 159 yards and a touchdown. Those aren't mind-blowing numbers, and 40 of the yards came on one touchdown pass to Andre Johnson, but Yates did exactly what he was supposed to do, which is "don't screw things up."

Overtime Rules: It -- literally -- took Ron Winter longer to explain the new overtime rules than it took the Broncos to end the overtime. One play to DeMaryius Thomas and that's it. Which is good for the NFL because a longer, more prolonged overtime opened up the possibility for mistakes by refs and scrutiny by media and fans. Instead now we think it works perfectly!

Pierre Thomas: Dude was kiliing it on Saturday and might be the biggest reason New Orleans won. He "only" scored once and but he put up 121 total yards and he fought for every freaking one of them; there's a reasonable chance 115 of them were after contact. Thomas' refusal to go down to the turf resulted in a lot of Saints drives getting extended a lot further than they should have, and he deserves props for his effort.

Cleveland Browns: When the Falcons were eliminated, the Browns locked up better draft picks in 2012, thanks to the Julio Jones trade. (They'll now pick a lot earlier, no worse than 23rd, in the first and fourth rounds.) Tom Heckhart also looks a little bit smarter today -- even if Julio Jones is special (he is) and even if the Falcons will eventually be more explosive (they should), that deal didn't work out the way the Falcons and Thomas Dimitroff thought it would. Yeah, they made the playoffs, but it was as a wild card and they didn't score a single point on Sunday.

Smith would like you to re-spot that ball, sir. (AP)

Losers

Mike Smith: Twice on Sunday, Smith had a controversial fourth-down decision to make. OK, the decisions weren't really that controversial, but the playcalls -- and the result -- were. Each time, once with Michael Turner on the freaking sideline, the Falcons snuck Ryan against a stout Giants defensive line, and each time, he was stuffed. Those decisions don't change the outcome of the game, per se, because the Giants still outscored Atlanta by more than six points, but Smith's going to answer a lot of questions about his decision-making.

Chris Crocker
: Crocker's a friend of the blog, so we don't want to rip him too hard, but that was a pretty terrible game from the Bengals safety. He dropped a crucial would-be pick-six at the start of the second half, he missed a sack of Yates, and his incredibly poor "tackling" on Arian Foster's 42-yard touchdown run is going to be replayed all week long. Not a good day for Crocker.

Lions Defense: It's not rare for a defense to get surgically dissected by Drew Brees. But the Lions have to be shaking their heads at missing a good chance at up-ending the Saints on Saturday because their defense couldn't get any penetration on Brees, couldn't make any stops on fourth downs, didn't make the Saints punt a single time and generally looked lost in coverage. They also dropped a pair of easy interceptions, one of which Eric Wright should've taken to the house.

Mike Mularkey: After a great season from the Falcons and a strong finish to the year, Mularkey's been a hot name as a coaching candidate and has a slew of interviews lined up. But the people looking to hire him for a full-time job are going to wonder about the incredibly conservative gameplan Mularkey dragged into the Meadowlands on Sunday, and how he managed to get outscored by Eli Manning 2-0. And then there's the short-yardage stuff (see: Mike Smith above). Smith's saying "go" but Mularkey's the guy dialing up the plays, and it might behoove teams to put him through a "Fourth-and-Short Playcalling Quiz" before giving him the gig.

John Elway: At halftime against Pittsburgh, Tim Tebow had thrown for 185 yards (all in the second quarter) and tied two of Elway's playoff records with the Broncos: he and Elway are the only Broncos quarterbacks with a) two 50-yard passes in the same game and b) a rushing and passing score in the same game. Oh and then he walked off the Steelers in overtime with an 80-yards pass. Please tell me how he's not going to bring Tebow back in 2012.

The Big Questions

 
Marvin needs to challenge his challenges. (AP)

1. What was Marvin Lewis thinking on those challenges?
He wasn't. The Bengals didn't lose because Lewis bungled a pair of first-half challenges, but that shouldn't excuse him for the actual bungling. Lewis gave away two timeouts and any chance of challenging in the second half by deciding that the Bengals (4/4 on short-yardage conversions against the Texans in Week 13) needed to challenge a bad spot on a second down and two that only went for one yard. Then he compounded it by challenging a catch in the second quarter, which allowed him to enter halftime with a deficit and no challenges.

2. Can the Saints win on the road?
Of course they can. But will they? The Saints are 0-4 in franchise history away from the Superdome when it comes to the playoffs and that's an applicable lesson for this year's team, who only played five games outside of a dome the entire year.

That's right: just five games. Now, the Saints know this. They talked about it with our own Pete Prisco after their win over Detroit on Saturday. The Saints are guaranteed nine games inside a year, because of eight home matchups and a game at division rival Atlanta. Here's what happened when they did venture away from the comfort of turf:

Week/Location Result Points Scored Passing Yards TD/INT Total Yards
Week 1 @ Green Bay L 34 419 3/0 477
Week 4 @ Jacksonville W 23 351 1/2 503
Week 5 @ Carolina W 30 359 2/1 444
Week 6 @ Tampa Bay L 20 383 1/3 453
Week 14 @ Tennessee W 22 337 2/0 437
Weekly Average N/A 34.2 334.2 2.9/0.9 467.1

Two of the Saints three losses this season came outside on the road, and they only went above 30 points twice on the road, despite averaging 34.2 points per game this season.

To paraphrase our Vice President, that's a big freaking deal.

3. Do Matt Ryan's playoff losses make him a bad quarterback?
No. But Ryan's the guy who'll be heavily judged over the next year with respect to his postseason performance, since he's now 0-3 in the playoffs. In those three games, Ryan's 70 of 110 for 584 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He's definitely the victim of a) conservative gameplans and b) playing against good teams (the NFC Champion Cardinals, the Super Bowl Champion Packers and this year's Giants), but that isn't going to stop people from discussing the fact that his stats stink in the playoffs and he can't win. It's the same thing people said about Aaron Rodgers before last year.

4. Can the Giants really win the Super Bowl?
Damn right they can. The "shades of 2007" storyline is a bit played out at this point ... but it's just kind of true. They're a wild card that everyone counted out, Eli Manning's hitting his stride at the absolutely perfect time, they've got a running game that's shaping back up and their pass rush is absolutely deadly. This is the kind of the same team, just with different players. (San Fran up-ending the Saints and keeping the Giants away from the Superdome would help a lot, too.)

5. Did you really rank Tim Tebow FIFTH on the remaining quarterbacks list?
Yes. Let's just move on before I emerge from my overtime-induced blackout.

6. How bright is the future for the Lions?
Very bright. They'll obviously want to lock down Calvin Johnson at some point, and they need to get some secondary help this coming offseason, and getting Mikel Leshoure back to provide a power running game is critical. But Matthew Stafford's primed to be the next quarterback who warrants a debate for "elite" status, in case the 5,000+ yards he tossed in 2011 didn't clue you into that. 

7. Why did the Saints draft Mark Ingram?
Not sure. But it at least seemed like a good idea the time, right? Ingram was supposed to be the power runner for the Saints, but in his first season he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and scored only five touchdowns. He's not playing now and Chris Ivory's performance on Saturday night really leads me to believe New Orleans could've gotten better value at a different position in April's draft.

8. Could Kevin Kolb land another big contract?

Possibly! Doing so would mean that Kolb would lose his first big contract though: Charley Casserly reported on Sunday that the Cardinals are a sleeper candidate for Peyton Manning if the Colts let him go. To make that happen, they'd obviously have to bail on Kolb's contract, which they can reportedly do at a fairly cheap cost. The timing is the issue though, since Kolb's roster bonus is due in March as well. But if it happens, Kolb could instantly become the third- or fourth-best quarterback available on the market, along with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Matt Flynn. It's a longshot, but an interesting situation to watch nonetheless.

9. Does Tebow deserve all the credit for the Broncos win?

As usual, no. Tebow gets a ton of credit because he does some amazing things late in games, but let's be clear: the Steelers played pretty freaking badly on Sunday night. Their pass defense was AWFUL and they ran Ben Roethlisberger out on a bad ankle and looked anemic early on on offense. The Broncos defense deserves some credit too, of course, because they played a nice game. And so do Tebow's wide receivers. Just figure out a way to spread it around.

GIF O' THE WEEK

OH NO Hakeem Nicks DID NOT JUST DO THE DIRTY BIRD. OH YES HE DID Jamaal Anderson.

Worth 1,000 Words


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Posted on: January 8, 2012 4:50 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 5:29 pm
 

Casserly: Cards a darkhorse for Peyton Manning?

Are the Cards a sleeper to make Peyton the next Warner? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The status of Peyton Manning with the Colts is absolutely up in the air, and a lot depends on the March 8 deadline for Indy to pick up his $28 million option.

While there's been some chatter that the Colts and Manning's camp discussed an extension of that deadline recently, CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's The NFL Today that it's not the case. He also reported that the decision on Manning's option will be made by owner Jim Irsay (not the new general manager) and that there's a darkhorse possibility to land Manning if he doesn't end up back with the Colts: the Arizona Cardinals.

"Jim Irsay in interviewing general manager candidates has told them he will make the decision whether Peyton Manning is back," Casserly reported Sunday. "He will not put that on the new general manager. Right now there have been absolutely no discussions according to the Manning camp between Manning and Irsay about extending that deadline. In fact, it would make no sense to me for Manning to agree to that. Why give up the opportunity to talk to other teams?

"One team to watch? The Arizona Cardinals. They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."


The Cardinals would be a shock to land Manning, if only because they haven't been discussed as a landing spot. But a healthy Manning would be an instant upgrade for Arizona and probably let them leapfrog the 49ers as NFC West favorites in 2012.

As for the extension talks, there's some thought that language in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement wouldn't even allow an extension of the option deadline.

Beside that point, Casserly's spot on: there's really no benefit for Manning to give the Colts a deadline, especially if they're set on selecting Andrew Luck in April's draft anyway.

The long and short of it is this: Manning's situation isn't going to simply go away between now and the deadline for the Colts to make a decision on his future in Indianapolis and even with the playoffs going on, it's going to remain a dominant NFL storyline.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Is Matt Flynn the next Kevin Kolb?

One way or the other, Flynn's getting paid this offseason. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

After what Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn did to the Lions Sunday -- 31 of 44 for 480 yards and a team record six touchdowns -- we joked on the Pick-6 Podcast (embedded below for your listening pleasure) that the performance would mean the Redskins would be first in line to throw a ton of dough in Flynn's general direction.


We stress "joked."

Then on Tuesday we saw this tweet from ESPN 980's Chris Russell: "Heard Matt Flynn's great performance Sunday generated a lot of buzz & positive chatter amongst the big names of the #Redskins organization."

Of course he did.

Look, Flynn had a mind-blowing afternoon against Detroit, and he also played well during a 2010 start against the Patriots. And in that sense, he's already more accomplished than Kevin Kolb was before he was anointed "the next franchise quarterback" last offseason. The Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and signed Kolb to a $63 million extension. In return they got nine starts, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 57.7 completion percentage and a ton of questions.

The takeaway: don't devote a non-trivial portion of your salary cap to someone who plays the most important position on the field based on a handful of snaps. Somehow, that wasn't entirely clear to everyone.

The Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk writes that the Browns could also be interested in Flynn. Doerschuk doesn't cite a source but writes that "There is no question Mike Holmgren would rush soon-to-be-free agent Matt Flynn hard. The only question is how much the Browns president likes the [Flynn]."

Is Flynn an upgrade over Colt McCoy, who Holmgren selected in the third round of the 2010 draft? Sure. Is he so much better than McCoy that the Browns should pay him starter's money to find out? Almost certainly not.

But as CBSSports.com's Will Brinson pointed out in Monday's Sorting the Sunday Pile, Flynn made himself some coin with Sunday's effort. "That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money."

To paraphrase Chris Rock, we're not saying it's right … but we understand.

But if Flynn's in line for a big payday, the Packers might want to get their cut, too. Yes, Flynn's set to be an unrestricted free agent in a few months, but there's a chance Green Bay could franchise him. No, seriously.

Because there may be little time (or opportunity) to trade Flynn before the start of free agency in March, the Packers' might get the biggest return on their investment by franchising him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein explains:
In exchange for being tagged, Flynn would receive a one-year deal worth the average of the last five franchise tag numbers at his position. Last year, the franchise number for quarterbacks was around $14 million, and it's likely to be higher this year.

So once the Packers tag Flynn, that $14 million counts against their salary cap. Flynn would automatically become the highest-paid player on the team in terms of annual salary.

NFL teams are prohibited from trading franchise players. In fact, the rules say you may not franchise a player with the intent to sign him to a contract and then trade him. However, this rule has been broken before and the NFL tends to look the other way.
Silverstein adds that the move isn't without risk for the Packers. Putting aside the illegality of a tag and trade, there's also the issue of having a $14 million backup on your roster if other teams aren't sufficiently interested in trading for him. Which means that team president Ted Thompson would have to work with Flynn's agent "behind the scenes to find a trading partner and then negotiate a deal suitable to Flynn."

Silverstein was told by a "prominent agent who has represented a franchise player" that Green Bay could be in line for a first-round pick at minimum for Flynn, and maybe a first- and third-rounder.

That sounds, well, extreme, especially since Hue Jackson already traded for Carson Palmer. Then again, Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn't afraid to mortgage the future for the possibility of success now. 

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Report: Cardinals will keep Kevin Kolb in 2012

The Cards aren't set to part ways with Kolb just yet. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Previously, we'd pointed to the fact that the Cardinals have an option to get out from under Kevin Kolb's hefty contract before 2012 by not exercising an option on a $7 million roster bonus for Kolb at the beginning of the next league year.

There was some scuttlebutt that the Cardinals would end up bailing on the Kolb experiment a year in, but Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports Wednesday that Arizona will keep Kolb on the roster for at least one more year.

Arizona simply has too much invested -- they gave up a second-round pick and cornerback  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philly in the trade to acquire Kolb and then inked him to a $63 million extension -- in Kolb to call the dogs off on his tenure in Arizona after one year.

However, Somers notes that 2012 will be a "defining year" for Kolb as a Cardinal, because of the salary increase he'll see over the next few years. If Kolb can't stay healthy, be productive on the field for Arizona and generate some wins in 2012, there's a good chance Arizona could cut bait before paying him a roster bonus in 2013.

Cutting Kolb after 2012 means the Cardinals will save over $40 million of Kolb's deal, which would be a tremendous value, except it means that they'll have already paid more than $10 million a year for two years of Kolb's services in Arizona.

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Posted on: December 24, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 16: Cam's the GOAT

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Slightly condensed version this week as it's the holidays. No podcast, no picture of the week and only eight questions. Blame Mrs. Brinson if you're so inclined. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter.

The Greatest Rookie Season Ever?

That's right. The greatest rookie season ever is precisely what Cam Newton's going to wrap up in Week 17 against the Saints a game of no real consequence when it comes to his legacy as the best rookie in NFL history.

There should be no argument that Cam's season, even without the final week, goes down as the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in history. He has the record for most passing yards in a season (again, with a week to go) by a rookie. He has the record for most passing yards in a game by a rookie. He has the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by any quarterback.

Of the seven rookie quarterbacks with 3,000 passing yards, Newton doesn't have the most passing touchdowns, but he doesn't have the most interceptions either. There shouldn't be any question that his rookie year is the greatest by any quarterback.

As far as other rookies go, you could argue for Eric Dickerson (more than 2,000 total yards and 20 touchdowns in 1983), Dick Lane (14 interceptions, two pick sixes for Night Train in 1952), Randy Moss (17 touchdowns and 1,313 receiving yards in 1998) or Lawrence Taylor (9.5 sacks -- before they were even counted -- in 1981) if you want.

But none of those guys dealt with the complexities of running an offense. None of those guys dealt with a lockout-shortened offseason. None of those guys performed the way they did under the intense scrutiny of 2011 Twitteratiland. None of those guys carried the expectations of the No. 1 overall pick who was supposed to save a franchise ... or cost a GM his job simply because no one was sure how good they'd be. None of those guys inspired the fierce debate that Newton did leading up to being drafted.

Cam's rejuvenated a franchise that was dead in the water and he might be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL right now. It's been a marvel to watch him perform and it's insane to think that there was a debate as to whether or not the Panthers should take him.

Winners

Matthew Stafford: The Lions are in the playoffs. That's worthy of "winner inclusion" all by itself. But the Lions were secretly facing a pretty bad situation, with the white-hot Chargers and the very good Packers over the next two weeks. 9-7 and getting snuck out of the playoffs wasn't out of the question at all. Until Stafford got his surgical precision on and shredded the San Diego secondary, going 29 of 36 with 373 yards and three touchdowns. Stafford's next up for the "is he or isn't he elite" debate.

Pete Prisco
: Yes, my CBSSports.com colleague and former life coach (Pete doesn't know it, but I fired him when he suggested I not wear socks with my loafers). Prisco's the only guy that I know of who refused to budge off his negative stance of Tebow during the Broncos winning streak. There might be an argument that Pete's stubborn and you might be inclined to call him a "hater" but with the way that Tebow egged on Saturday, there are going to be a LOT of people ripping him over the next week. And Prisco's the only one of those people who's stood his ground the whole time.

Kevin Kolb:
The Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday and that means Kolb avoided his worst possible nightmare. That would be "John Skelton marching Arizona to an improbable postseason run and the team deciding to bail on Kolb's albatross of a contract." Instead, Arizona now plays out the string and regroups for 2012, likely with Kolb as the starting quarterback for at least another year.

Matt Forte
: What's that, you say? Forte didn't play on Saturday. Oh, I know that. I also know that if the Vikings hadn't handed Adrian Peterson a monster contract before the 2011 season, things would be awkward right about now. Over the past month, the Bears have collapsed without Forte and Jay Cutler, meaning he's beefed up his leverage as an important player for the franchise and, with the Peterson injury, justified his rationale for wanting a new contract.

Jerome Simpson: Did you see his touchdown catch?

Turner's time might be up in San Diego. (US Presswire)

Losers

Norv Turner: A lot of credit goes to the Lions for the way they played on Saturday. Detroit is a very good team and a formidable opponent. But how can the Chargers not show up, especially knowing that the Broncos lost and that they were either a Bengals/Jets pair of losses or a Broncos loss in Week 17 away from making the playoffs? That's still not "controlling your own destiny" but out of everyone who was gifted an early Christmas present during the early games on Sunday, Turner and the Chargers were probably the luckiest. A 24-0 halftime deficit in the most critical game of the season isn't going to inspire any Spanos family members to keep their pink slips tucked away.

Jason Garrett
: No one's going to blame him for losing to Philly. That's what happens with Stephen McGee under center. But holy cow does Garrett have the hardest decision -- and the most scrutiny -- of his short career coming up over the next week. The Giants and Cowboys will play in Week 17, with a trip to the postseason and a division championship on the line. Tony Romo will almost certainly play, but will he be effective? Can Garrett gameplan in order to play to Romo's injury? Will he cough up a shot at the postseason? These are the ways we will judge him after next week's game. And by "we" I obviously mean "Jerry Jones and his potentially angry family."

Adrian Peterson
: AP's leg injury on Sunday was so brutal that I even feel like a jerk putting him in the "losers" section. But if you saw the horrific nature of Peterson's injury, you know precisely why he's not feeling like a winner right now. The Vikings announced after the game that it was a sprained knee but -- all due respect to Minnesota -- that's just not believable at all. The multiple reports that it's a torn ACL (and potentially worse) make a lot more sense. It's just sad that Peterson could miss significant time because he was playing in a meaningless game for a three-win team.

Rex Ryan: Ryan spent all week running his mouth about the New York-New York rivalry and when push came to shove, his guy Mark Sanchez fumbled on the Giants goal line and threw a "pass" to an offensive lineman that resulted in a safety in a devastating loss on Saturday. The Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie combo got torched by Victor Cruz (that's his name, right?) and Brandon Jacobs got to say "It's time to shut up, fat boy." That's just embarrassing. Oh, right, and the Jets lost control of their own destiny with respect to the playoffs. It wouldn't be nearly as mortifying if Ryan hadn't run his mouth all week.

Pipedreams: Just like San Diego, the Eagles were very much a longshot to make the playoffs. But I'm telling you, there was a chance. Then the Giants killed that chance (adding to their winner-y-ness) with a win over the Jets. That means Week 17 is no longer a dream scenario for fans of long shots, because both early-season favorites are now removed from any chance of a postseason berth. You don't have to root for the Eagles or Chargers. In fact, you can root against them. But if you don't like ridiculous storylines and clowning around with playoff predictors then we're not friends.

The Big Questions

 
The new Tebow narrative could be awkward. (AP)

1. What's the new Tim Tebow narrative?
No, but it's on life support (and Prisco wants to pull the plug!). Look, Tebow can still win against Kansas City in Week 17, or even lose as long as the Chargers beat the Raiders. But think about how quickly this narrative could be absolutely flipped on its head: if Kyle Orton, the man Tebow replaced, beats Tebow in Week 17 because Tebow can't win late, and the Raiders beat the Chargers and make the playoffs, the Broncos new narrative will be as chokers. No, really, it will. And that is nuts when you consider where we were just two weeks ago.

2. Why does Leslie Frazier keep playing guys who are hurt?
NO CLUE. But this is a story that's flown under the radar for the past few weeks and it culminated with AP's injury against Washington, as well as the concussion that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder suffered on Saturday. The Vikings are 3-12 after winning on Christmas Eve, but they didn't even need Peterson or Ponder to put up points -- it was all Joe Webb against the Redskins. Of course, winning, at this point, should be secondary. Frazier's top priority should be the health of his franchise quarterback and running back. Instead, these guys keep getting trotted out with injuries late in a lost season. That's not the sort of thing that keeps a job safe for long.

3. Did Raheem Morris get fired on Saturday?

Almost certainly. The Panthers went out and walloped Tampa Bay 48-16 in Charlotte, meaning that the Bucs lost their eighth game in a row.  Worse than the losses is the way they've happened: over the last four games, the Buccaneers have been outscored 158-64. They've given up 40 points to the Panthers and Jaguars and have topped 20 points just once since their trip to London in late October when things really started to unravel. It's an embarrassing collapse down the stretch and it's hard to blame the Glazer family and GM Mark Dominik when (not if) they fire Morris.

4. Anyone else getting fired?
Gotta think that Turner's done in San Diego now and that Romeo Crennel's the only interim hanging around. I can't buy that Jim Caldwell's saving his job so I'd add him to the list too. But I think any questions about Chan Gailey can now be reserved for a while, given the way he dismantled the Broncos on Sunday.

5.  Why should Tom Brady be worried?
Because his offensive lineman are dropping like flies. And while the Patriots are going to continue being good because that's what the Patriots do, there's absolutely cause for concern in New England if Logan Mankins and Matt Light are hurt for any length of time. As you may be aware, this isn't a team predicated on playing any sort of defense, and if they can't protect Tom Brady, there's little chance of them advancing in the postseason.

5. How mad are the 49ers?
Furious. And it doesn't matter that they won, because they gave up a rushing touchdown to Marshawn Lynch. They might hold the record for most games without one, but you know they wanted to make it the entire season. They did not.

6. Am I going to have to watch Matt Flynn on Christmas night?
Not as much as you might have feared. The 49ers won against the Seahawks on Saturday, and that means Green Bay hasn't clinched the top seed yet. Which means that Aaron Rodgers will stay in the game against the Bears for the entire game, barring an absolute Packers blowout.

7. Was Simpson's catch the play of the year?
Yup, it sure was. Maybe not the "play of the century" or anything insane like people are saying, but it was an absolutely bananas catch and it deserves incredible props. Watch -- it's going to be the type of thing you talk with your relatives about on Christmas. That's the way you can truly judge the greatness of a play.

8. Should Ben Roethlisberger play next week?
No. There's just no need. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice handled the Browns just fine in Week 16, and Charlie Batch/Rashard Mendenhall can do the same in Week 17. Rest the guy, run the ball, cross your fingers that Cincy can summon the strength to beat the Ravens on the road and let Roethlisberger rest.

GIF O' THE WEEK

I mean duh. Did you notice I liked it?



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Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:34 am
 

Five questions (or more) with Andre Roberts

A. Roberts has helped Arizona win six of its past seven games (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

Andre Roberts is a second-year receiver for the Cardinals, but if you haven’t heard of him, that’s to be expected. Arizona has been ignored for much of the year -- that’s probably because of San Francisco’s ridiculous season -- and even when the Cardinals got hot and started their current streak (they’ve won six of their past seven games), Roberts wasn’t a receiver on which the average fan focused.

He’s no fantasy football hero, and with Larry Fitzgerald sucking up all the attention for the entire Arizona receiving corps (and deservedly so), Roberts has quietly put together an effective season as the team’s No. 2 receiver. Not bad for a Division I-AA player who planned on going into the accounting field if pro football failed him.

On the season, he’s caught 41 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns, but in the past three games, he’s begun to record impressive numbers. In Arizona’s upset of Dallas in Week 13, Roberts lead the team with six catches for 111 yards. Against Cleveland last week, he reeled in another six catches for 60 yards. With Fitzgerald in the lineup, Roberts won’t be the THE star, but still, he’s established a niche for himself for a team that seems to have plenty of potential.

We caught up with Roberts this week, and during our discussion, we touched on why John Skelton has played well after taking over the quarterback spot for Kevin Kolb, why Victory Monday can be so sweet and why playing football at the Citadel wasn’t the easiest road he could have taken.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Sept. 16:
Actor/former Patriots DB Brian White

Sept. 30: Bills RB Fred Jackson

Oct. 7: Sweetness author Jeff Pearlman

Oct. 21: 49ers LB Aldon Smith

Nov. 4:
Bengals S Chris Crocker

Nov. 18: legendary coach Bum Phillips

Dec. 9: Jets DE Aaron Maybin

1. CBSSports.com: With the 49ers playing well, not a lot of people paid much attention to the rest of the NFC West. But you guys have won six of seven, and you’re still here. How’d that happen?

Andre Roberts: Just working hard after our losses. It’s easy to get down after having six losses straight (from Weeks 2-8). We kept working at it, we kept grinding away.

CBS: But the 49ers got off to such a fast start and left everybody else in the NFC West behind. Obviously, that’s not something you guys can control except when you play the 49ers. But on a mental level, how tough is it when the 49ers just keep on winning and pulling away in the division?

Roberts: For the most part, we just worry about us. You can’t worry about other teams. As for us and the other teams in the NFC West, it just makes us play harder. We have to compete with those guys in order to get in the playoffs.

2. CBS: But after beating Dallas and then San Francisco a few weeks back, that must have been a big thing for you guys.

Roberts: It was big for us. It was keeping our win streak alive. It’s really about the team we play every single week. We came out and worked hard. Just tried to do our best. Dallas is good and San Fran is a good team. We just worked hard and had a good time.

CBS: But everybody works hard. I could ask every guy in the NFL, and they all would say they work hard every single week. What’s different about the Cardinals lately?

Roberts: I don’t know, maybe Victory Mondays. If we win, we get Mondays off. We get a little more rest. I don’t know, it’s just something about our team. We have a resilience.

CBS: What do you guys do if you have a Victory Monday?

Roberts: For the most part, we come in and get treatment and work out. Hot tub and cold tub. But when we have a Victory Monday, we don’t watch film from Sunday. We don’t have to watch that until Wednesday. We still come in and work out and everything. But it’s just the feeling of having that day off; it’s us getting something from winning the game on the weekend.

A. Roberts has been Arizona's No. 2 receiver this year (US Presswire).3. CBS: You guys still aren’t out of playoff picture yet. You’ve already beaten Dallas and San Francisco. You have to win out and get a lot of help. It’s still a longshot, but you’re still here.

Roberts: Definitely, last year at this point of the year, we had no chance of making the playoffs. We’re really treating every game like a playoff game. In order for us to have the opportunity, we have to win out. We can win out and still not go, but that’s why we’re treating every game like it’s a playoff.

4. CBS: Kevin Kolb was obviously the big money free agent to come in, and for John Skelton, that must have been tough. Now, he’s had to take over for Kolb a few times because of Kolb injuries. How did John get through that and still manage to be effective when he has to play?

Roberts: He responded great to it. I’m sure he knew we were going to have a free agent come in. Kevin came in and we wanted him to start. But John handled it great. Like everybody else, he just works hard. He’s definitely a hard worker, and when you go about it like that, you’ll come out on the right side.

CBS: Was there a little bit more familiarity with John because you guys came into the league together and because he played some quarterback last year with you guys?

Roberts: It helped a lot with the familiarity of him and his ball and the way it comes at you and him knowing the playbook. I’m sure it helped him a lot. We didn’t have the offseason, but being able to see the defense and to read them in preparation to know routes we were running, it helps with the timing. 

5. CBS: You played at the Citadel. I want to know what that’s like -- with all the military exercises and the school and playing football on top of that. I don’t know how many guys in the NFL played at the Citadel, but I can’t imagine there are many. And I can’t imagine there’s anybody from VMI in the league. That has to be a tough existence in college.

Roberts: It’s really tough. At the Citadel, you have to deal with the military life and football and school. Most of the time you go to college, and you only have to worry about football and school. It can take a toll on you if you let it. That hardest year is that first year, when you’re introduced to it all. You come into football camp, and you go into school and everything is so new. It is tough.

The first-year guys everywhere have it rough. You don’t know the environment. You don’t know your teammates. You don’t know who your roommate is going to be, because our roommates weren’t football players but other people in the regular corps. All that stuff combined with classes and knowing what your major is, after the military exercises and then having to learn plays, it’s tough.

CBS: How did you do it?

Roberts: I had to fit in real quick. Football actually helps. It takes away some of the military duties. Football is a getaway and that’s how I used it. I used it to get my mind off school and military stuff. That what helped me the most.

CBS: I know both of your parents were in the military. Was that a route you were going to take if the NFL thing didn’t work out?

Roberts: I actually never wanted to go into the military. I went to a military college and my parents were military. I had a strict household growing up. I thought it wouldn’t be that hard, but I didn’t want to.

CBS: I read an interview with you when you were still in college, and you said that the only Division I offers you had were the Citadel and Coastal Carolina, and that since Coastal is by the beach, you didn’t think you’d be able to finish school. Is that true?

Roberts: I don’t know if I really needed the structure the Citadel gave me, but it helped me get through school and to grow up and to learn how to be a man. I didn’t know if I could have done that at Coastal.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com