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Coveted Kolb locked in place amid trade freeze

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Kevin Kolb is the most-coveted quarterback not in Thursday's draft. Only one problem: To acquire him, you must trade with the Philadelphia Eagles -- and with the NFL in lockout limbo, nobody's trading anyone anywhere.

So that begs the question: If the lockout isn't lifted before the draft, what happens to Kolb? The Eagles probably deal him when the lockout ends, and here's why: Because they're not fixed on 2011 draft picks as compensation. They're willing to take 2012 draft picks -- if necessary -- in return.

If the lockout isn't lifted before the draft, what happens to QB Kevin Kolb? (Getty Images)  
If the lockout isn't lifted before the draft, what happens to QB Kevin Kolb? (Getty Images)  
That tells me that sooner or later they're going to trade him, and when the lockout is lifted it will be sooner.

The move makes sense in that Kolb has one season left on his contract with the Eagles, and the club is committed to Michael Vick. While Kolb offers a security blanket against the inevitable injury to Vick, the Eagles nevertheless seem willing to let him fast-forward his career -- allowing him to go somewhere he can start, which means somewhere other than Philadelphia.

As you might expect in a seller's market, the price is steep: The Eagles want a first-round draft pick. Though Kolb is a quarterback with seven starts, he's 26, has proven he can win big games (he shredded Atlanta last season) and is the accurate pocket-passer teams look for in the draft.

Critics question if he's worth a first-round draft pick, but the market determines that -- and all I know is that before the lockout was imposed in early March there were clubs salivating over the guy, seemingly willing to offer first-rounders for him.

That tells you something about Kolb, and it tells you something about this year's draft for quarterbacks. There is not one in there ready to step in tomorrow and start. Kolb can. But the lockout ended all trade talks, with Kolb caught in the middle. He wants to go where he can start, but he can't go unless the Eagles trade him, which the lockout prevented.

Though it was lifted by Judge Susan Nelson's order Monday, the NFL is pursuing a stay of her decision -- and, until it gains a verdict on that motion, putting the kibosh on trades and free-agent acquisitions. It's a lockout limbo, with the NFL waiting on the courts for its next move, and Kevin Kolb waiting on the Eagles for his.

Logic might tell you that Philadelphia keeps him because Vick is an injury waiting to happen and, barring an immediate end to the lockout, because the Eagles can't acquire draft picks they can turn into players immediately.

But the reality is that Philadelphia is willing to consider veterans and/or future draft picks for Kolb; that it is high on third-stringer Mike Kafka, whom it found in the fourth round of last year's draft; that it could acquire a veteran backup quarterback as Vick's backup; and that it is eager to accommodate Kolb in his request to start.

That doesn't mean the Eagles are looking to dump the guy. On the contrary, they're high on him and believe he could be their next starter. In fact, they made him their next starter this time last year. But Vick is in the way now, and Kolb isn't going to budge him. So either he stays and leaves after the season, or he leaves soon.

I say he leaves soon, but only after the lockout is lifted, and only after someone meets the Eagles' demands.


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