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Kolb-to-Cards still on target, but Eagles being cautious

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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The Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals continue to talk about a trade for quarterback Kevin Kolb, with the likelihood that the deal gets done -- and probably soon.

But what if it doesn't? What happens then? Well, then the Eagles do what they did a year ago and keep Kolb as the backup to starter Michael Vick. I'm serious.

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Now let's get something straight: I still think this trade happens. Arizona is desperate for a quarterback, and, with Cincinnati insistent on keeping Carson Palmer, Kolb is the best option out there.

But he won't come cheap. The deal that has been discussed involves Arizona cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick, and, yeah, I can see that happening.

But nobody has signed off on it. Not yet. And here's why: Philadelphia must be convinced it has itself covered at the backup quarterback spot before it does anything with Kolb. That means signing an unrestricted free agent, trading for an experienced veteran or at least getting warm on somebody.

Until or unless that happens, the Eagles don't move.

Kevin Kolb still looks like the right fit for the Cardinals. (US Presswire)  
Kevin Kolb still looks like the right fit for the Cardinals. (US Presswire)  
That doesn't mean they don't think third-stringer Mike Kafka, a 2010 draft pick, has a future. They do. They're just more comfortable with a quarterback with experience if and when Vick is injured. Given Vick's wide-open game and the number of hits he absorbs, he seems a likely candidate for missing time this season -- and even if it's no more than a handful of starts you'd want someone behind him you can trust.

Kolb is that someone. He stepped in last season and led the Eagles to a resounding defeat of Atlanta, the best team in the NFC, and coach Andy Reid has sufficient faith in him that it was Kolb, not Vick, he named as his starter when the Eagles last year peddled Donovan McNabb to Washington.

Only one problem: Kolb is on a one-year deal, and if you don't trade him now you almost certainly lose him to free agency within a year. So it makes sense to gain something for him while you can ... only Philadelphia will be careful -- just as it was when it traded away McNabb in 2010 under similar circumstances.

He had a year left on his contract, too, and the Eagles could have kept him. But they knew they weren't going to re-sign him. More important, they knew they had a safety net in Kolb, a quarterback Reid believed had a future. So they waited until they found the right offer, then pulled the trigger.

One year later, they're still looking for that safety net ... only now it's in advance of a possible Kolb trade. While they do it, they're also looking for the right deal, with Arizona the most interested and persistent suitor.

Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick could send Kolb there, and it should. The Cardinals would get themselves a bona fide starter, a drastic improvement over Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton a year ago, and they would gain a quarterback with a future. Kolb is only 27 years old.

The Eagles, on the other hand, would fill a gaping hole with a solid, young cornerback, while acquiring a high draft pick for the future. If Philadelphia is going to push Green Bay in the NFC it must improve itself at the right-cornerback position, and Rodgers-Cromartie is significantly better than what the Eagles had there last season.

Plus, Rodgers-Cromartie's only 25, has great size (he's 6-2, 190), great leaping ability and was good enough to make the Pro Bowl two years ago.

In the end, I think the deal gets completed for all the right reasons: Arizona needs a quarterback, Philadelphia needs a cornerback and both teams are running out of time.

But it's not a slam dunk. Not yet it isn't. The Eagles must feel good about their backup to Michael Vick before they make the next move. That will have to happen before this trade does.

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