Kolb's rough ride in Arizona reminds that trading for quarterbacks is dicey, too

by | National NFL Insider
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Kevin Kolb can't be termed a bust yet, but his first season as a Cardinal was shaky at best. (AP)  
Kevin Kolb can't be termed a bust yet, but his first season as a Cardinal was shaky at best. (AP)  

In July of last year the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. Amazingly, the Eagles were able to pull off that trade minus a ski mask and Glock.

It's possible this trade will go down as one of the most lopsided, most spectacularly bad trades in recent league history. After pulling it off, Andy Reid must have thought the Cardinals were going to phone back and say they had changed their minds. Just kiddin, bra'. But no. The Cardinals actually made that trade.

At a press conference announcing the deal, Reid said of the Cardinals' coach: "Ken Whisenhunt ... it was a well executed" trade. And by well executed, Reid meant: Suckas!

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Arizona then compounded the trade by handing Kolb a $63 million contract, with $21 million of it guaranteed. That is the opposite of well executed.

To call Kolb a bust may be unfair, but he has trouble with accuracy, displays little touch on his passes, doesn't have dazzling arm strength, doesn't seem to get the offense, doesn't seem mentally tough and panics a bit too much. In other words, he's Blaine Gabbert.

There is a lesson here, and Kolb isn't the only example. Enough time has passed to evaluate several crucial trades involving teams that looked to veterans for a possible quick fix instead of patience and the draft.

The results are far from exact, but the lesson, so far at least, is to be careful trading for other people's veteran expendables. In other words, one man's quarterback trash is not necessarily another man's quarterback treasure.

Carson Palmer could be a bust. Kolb probably is. Donovan McNabb went to Washington from Philadelphia, a move I once criticized Philadelphia for making, but was dead wrong about. The Redskins saw him as a quick fix (as the Redskins see almost everything) and he was a complete bust. We'll see about Peyton Manning. We'll see about Matt Flynn, too.

Recent history shows the process of acquiring a veteran for a quick fix isn't always perfect. There are success stories, definitely. Jay Cutler went from Denver to Chicago and that has worked. Drew Brees has been obviously fantastic. Matt Hasselbeck has been a mixed bag. The Seahawks got six playoff runs and a Super Bowl appearance out of Hasselbeck but his tenure in Tennessee has been average.

The draft is fraught with its own potholes (cough, Ryan Leaf, cough) but the short-term fix is an even bigger sucker magnet. With a rookie like, say, Cam Newton, the risk isn't as high because of a rookie salary cap, and in many cases, a team is using a singular pick. In two of the biggest free-agent veteran quarterback trades in recent history in Kolb and Palmer, the acquiring teams had to give up multiple high picks and/or good veteran players.

Bringing in veterans (and paying them megabucks) also greatly enhances the pressure. Rookies get time. Because of the massive money he has been paid, Kolb doesn't. He's a veteran and paid handsomely and is expected to produce immediately both by his team and the fans. That's why many Cardinals fans booed Kolb at a recent Fan Fest event.

For every Brees, there are two Kolbs. For every Hasselbeck, there's a bushel of McNabbs. I'm the only one in the nation who believes this but I'm not so sure Manning will work in Denver. There continue to be whispers across the sport that Manning's arm strength will be a persistent problem.

It's difficult to also have high hopes for Matt Flynn in Seattle when he has played more NFL games on Madden than in the real NFL.

The Palmer trade was as farcical as the Kolb one. The Raiders gave up first- and second-round picks for Palmer. Presumably, the kitchen sink was unavailable.

Palmer will be worth that kind of collateral if the Raiders win a Super Bowl with him at the helm. But he's so broken down the only way Palmer will be in a Super Bowl is if he's playing the piano during the halftime act.

It's possible Kolb morphs into the player the Cardinals paid such a steep price to get. It's more likely the boos continue.

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