PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Kolb is a No. 1 quarterback again.
Kolb began last season as the heir-apparent to Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, but he went down with a concussion in the opener, losing his job to Michael Vick in the process. The Cardinals have been looking for an answer at quarterback since Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season.
"Ultimately Kevin was the guy that we had the highest grade on, that we felt was the best fit for what we're trying to get accomplished as far as a fit with our offense, where he was age-wise, what he had done in the league," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That was our target."
The deal was highly anticipated for several months during the NFL lockout. It finally became official Thursday afternoon.
"I know he'll do a great job, and I'm pulling for him," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Kolb. "I think he deserves this opportunity. I'm very happy for him. His hard work is rewarded."
Kolb, who turns 27 next month, will sign a five-year contract for just under $64 million that includes $21 million guaranteed, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
Rodgers-Cromartie, who went to the Pro Bowl in 2009, will play opposite four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel. The Eagles struggled against the pass last year, allowing a franchise-record 31 touchdowns in the air. They used several players at right cornerback after trading longtime starter Sheldon Brown to Cleveland. Ellis Hobbs began the season as the starter before sustaining a career-threatening injury. Dimitri Patterson, Joselio Hanson and Trevard Lindley also filled in after Hobbs went down.
"He's a Pro Bowl-caliber player, he's explosive, he's got great ball skills, he'll fit well with the kind of philosophy we're running on defense," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said of Rodgers-Cromartie, who hasn't played right corner before. "He's also got great height, so he's able to match up with bigger receivers, rare speed. An explosive guy. Knows how to break on the ball. Can press. Can play off. Can play all sorts of coverages, and in our defense, we want him to do those sorts of things.
"And then I think being with Asante will help him. Asante's got great ball skills. He knows how to study quarterbacks. I think being around here in this defense and the way we're going to get up field with our pass rush, I think he'll have great opportunities to make plays."
Kolb, a second-round draft pick out of the University of Houston in 2007, started just seven games in four seasons with the Eagles. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in his first two starts when he filled in for an injured McNabb in Weeks 2 and 3 in 2009. The Eagles traded McNabb to Washington in April 2010, paving the way for Kolb to become the starter.
But Kolb was injured in the first half of the opener against Green Bay and Vick played so well that he remained the starter. Kolb completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,082 yards and 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He was outstanding filling in for an injured Vick last October, completing 23 of 29 passes for 326 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a victory over Atlanta.
"Historically there have been trades made with players at that position who have not had a great deal of playing time leading up to that. If you believe in the player and you feel like he's a good fit for your organization, you go after it, and that's what we did," Cardinals GM Rod Graves said. "We saw a quarterback there that we felt very excited about, we feel like he can come in and get the job done for us, and put us in a position to be a championship-caliber football team. What's the price for that? To be able to get in that position, let's just say we did what we felt like we had to do to make that happen."
When Warner retired after leading Arizona to a Super Bowl and consecutive NFC West titles, the Cardinals wound up with erratic Derek Anderson at quarterback. Eventually, he was benched in favor of undrafted rookie Max Hall, who after some disastrous play was replaced by another rookie, first-round draft pick John Skelton. Anderson is expected to be released.
Besides needing far better play at quarterback, Arizona needed to show wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald it was serious about bringing in someone who could get him the ball. Fitzgerald is in the last year of his contract and re-signing with the Cardinals could hinge on how the team improves offensively this season. Kolb already has lost potentially one of his best receivers in free agent Steve Breaston, who is not re-signing with Arizona and reportedly is headed for Kansas City.
"He's going to give them an opportunity to win, each and every Sunday, and I think that's what's important," Vick said of Kolb. "So they can be happy about that."
A first round draft pick (16th overall) of Arizona in 2008, Rodgers-Cromartie has recorded 16 interceptions (13 regular season, three playoffs) in 54 career games (49 starts) since entering the league. That total ranks him fourth among all NFL cornerbacks during that span behind Samuel (22) and Green Bay's Tramon Williams (18) and Charles Woodson (18). In addition, his four interception returns for touchdowns since `08 are tied for second behind Woodson (6).