All bets are off for 2013, and probably sooner, after neither Skelton nor Kevin Kolb separated himself significantly during their offseason competition.
Skelton becomes the fourth quarterback in four seasons to open a regular season as the Cardinals' starter. Kolb (2011), Derek Anderson (2010) and Kurt Warner (2009) were the previous three. Neither Kolb nor Anderson remained the starter past the seventh regular-season game.
Skelton beat out Kolb for the job without playing particularly well during the preseason, but Skelton appeared more confident, in my view. Kolb made his strongest case for the job during the team's preseason game at Tennessee, but two interceptions killed his momentum.
Naming Skelton the starter after paying a $7 million offseason bonus to retain Kolb shows coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't going to anoint Kolb the starter simply because Kolb was earning a starter's salary. Whisenhunt has watched over the years to see how teammates respond to his quarterbacks. That was one reason he favored Anderson over Matt Leinart in 2010. It was likely part of his decision to go with Skelton as well.
The decision deals another blow to Kolb's flagging career in Arizona, but with questions about Skelton and the team's ability to protect either quarterback, Kolb figures to get another chance this season. The team has already committed close to $20 million to Kolb in 13 months. He is set to earn $1 million in salary this season. There's nothing to gain from releasing him now. Kolb's salary jumps to $9 million in 2013. It's an upset if he's on the roster at all by then, let alone at such a steep price.
Meanwhile, rookie Ryan Lindley appears to be gaining ground on the depth chart. Whisenhunt has said he doesn't expect Lindley to start this season, although one-time third-stringer Max Hall became a starter in 2010.