Eagles should capitalize on his value
Kolb will be one of the most valuable trade commodities once there is a collective bargaining agreement and trade talks can resume. A first-round choice in either 2011 or 2012 trumps the value of an insurance policy, and Kolb can easily command at least first-round compensation.
While it seems unlikely the Eagles can get a first-round pick in 2011 because the time is running out to get a CBA done before the draft, a first-round pick in 2012 still works. Kolb is a free agent after 2011 and surely won't sign an extension as long as Vick is the starter.
It would be better to take a first-rounder in 2012 instead of getting a third-round compensatory pick in 2013. Under the old compensatory formula, a team that loses a free agent could gain a third-rounder if that free agent gets big money and plays well for another team. Kolb could be the top free agent in 2012 because he's a potential starting quarterback. Plus, there is no guarantee the league will even have compensatory picks in the next CBA. What do the Eagles have to lose?
The Eagles deserve a lot of credit for building tradable assets and taking advantage of them. They shocked the world last year by getting a No. 2 in 2010 and a No. 4 in 2011 for Donovan McNabb and still making the playoffs. A No. 1 for Kolb, who was a second-round choice, would be even better.
It's no accident Reid has a knack for developing quarterbacks and getting value for the ones who don't play. He learned that when he was an assistant in Green Bay under Mike Holmgren and watched general manager Ron Wolf perform his personnel magic. Wolf had the philosophy that it doesn't hurt to draft a quarterback every year if possible, particularly if the team has great offensive teachers.
Reid developed A.J. Feeley as a backup and convinced the Miami Dolphins to give the Eagles a second-round pick in a 2004 trade. Kolb is more talented than Feeley. Wherever he ends up, Kolb could become as successful as Matt Schaub in Houston.
Odds of a trade to an NFC West team are good. The 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks all need quarterbacks and all three might not end up with what they want in the 2011 draft.
It makes sense to make the trade.
With Vick as starter, insurance is key
Of the backup quarterbacks for the 12 teams that reached the playoffs in 2010, only one was younger than 30 with more than one career victory as a starter: Kevin Kolb.
Every other team entered the playoffs tempting fate. They either had a barely tested youngster (Matt Flynn of the Packers, Chase Daniel of the Saints, Curtis Painter of the Colts) or a past-his-prime geezer (Mark Brunell of the Jets, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich of the Steelers) one sack away from the starting lineup. Only the Eagles had a backup who was still at his athletic peak, yet was seemingly experienced enough to lead his team in a pressure situation.
The other playoff teams didn't have iffy backup situations by design. It's just that difficult to retain the services of a young, experienced backup. The Eagles have both Kolb and Michael Vick because they made bold decisions a few years ago: They drafted and groomed Kolb before Donovan McNabb went into sharp decline, then took a chance on Vick when they appeared to have no need at the position. They must now make another bold move: retain Kolb as a Vick insurance policy.
A team with Super Bowl aspirations can't afford to be without a Plan B at quarterback, especially when Plan A is an undersized 31-year-old scrambler coming off a season of rib and quad injuries. If they trade Kolb, the Eagles will enter camp with former sixth-round pick Mike Kafka and a rookie or free agent to be named as Vick's backups. Neither the rookie nor the veteran would have a full offseason to learn Andy Reid's complex system. Kolb? He'll be entering his fifth year in the same offense.
Sure, those other teams reached the playoffs without backups of Kolb's quality, but there were lots of close calls. The Chiefs lost an important game by a 31-0 score under Brodie Croyle. Flynn played well for the Packers in a loss to the Patriots, but took most of the snaps in a 7-3 loss to the Lions.
Kolb's 2-3 record as a starter last year (3-4 career) might not look like much, but by the standards of the modern backup quarterback, he's a regular Don Strock. He isn't a luxury; he's a necessity.