|This is as close as we'll get to seeing Manning in a Cardinals uniform. (Eye on Football Illustration)|
If Peyton Manning's future in Arizona wasn't crystal clear after the team decided to pick up Kevin Kolb's $7 million option bonus earlier Friday, now it's official: Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has issued a statement confirming as much.
“Regarding today's developments and our quarterback position, acquiring Peyton Manning is no longer an option for us," Whisenhunt said on the team's website. “Since the end of last season we made it very clear that our plan was to head into 2012 with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, let the process play out and – like at every position - go with the quarterback who gives us the best chance to win."
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“Obviously something very unique and unexpected presented itself," the coach continued. "We've said it many times: if there's an opportunity to make our team better we'll explore it; we view the potential of adding a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback as one of those. The organization quickly put together an aggressive plan to go after it. We're proud of that and feel very strongly about what we have to offer as a team and as an organization. In the end it didn't work out but from our perspective it was very positive and we certainly don't have any regrets about it."
Credit to Whisenhunt for being honest. Usually, there would be a press release filled with PR double-speak extolling Kolb's virtues as the franchise's future while downplaying any meet-and-greets that may have taken place with Manning. The Cards were in the market for a quarterback because Kolb was a huge disappointment last season. That's the story. Fans know it, the media knows, and Whisenhunt knows it (and he knows we know it, too).
“We sit here today in the same spot we were heading into the offseason. That's with two experienced quarterbacks who have both demonstrated positive things in the past and who we feel good about. Like we said at the end of the season when we won seven of the last nine games, carrying the momentum of that strong finish into 2012 is important and that remains unchanged.”
Worth mentioning: Kolb played in just nine games last season and put up numbers similar to his backup Skelton. Kolb threw for 1,955 yards, including 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 57.7; Skelton went for 1,913 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, with a 54.9 completion percentage.
There's more: Skelton, 5-2 as a starter, counted $450,000 against the '11 salary cap while Kolb, 3-6 before being sidelined with a toe injury and later a concussion, counted $4,000,000 against the cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13). This comes months after he signed a five-year, $63 million extension.
So now, hours after the Cardinals have decided to give Kolb that $7 million bonus, does Skelton have a legitimate chance to win the job next season?
"We're always opening it up to let other guys compete for spots and the best players are going to play," Whisenhunt during a February interview on KTAR-AM in Phoenix. "That's the nature of this league, that's the nature of this game, and that's the way we go about business. ... [W]hen you talk about the quarterback position that's something that both guys are going to get opportunities because John certainly deserves it from the way that he played over the back half of the season and Kevin certainly deserves it from the reason that we went out, got him, and brought him in."
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