When the Arizona Cardinals traded for Kevin Kolb, they decided that they had their franchise quarterback. The NFC Western Division team rewarded the young play caller with a contract worth an approximate amount of 63 million dollars. The former second round pick has only played in 15 of the maximum 32 regular season games, which has made the Cardinals ponder about whether or not they are getting a return on their investment. Kevin Kolb should not be released though, and here's why:
Free Agent Quarterback Class is Very Weak: The Arizona Cardinals want to save money and ensure Kolb does not get a two million dollar bonus on March 16th. After all, why should the 28-year old quarterback get that kind of money when he has been too injured to play in over of his potential starts? For starters, Kolb has still proven himself to be able to make big plays with his arm, and there is no better option on the open market to get a seasoned quarterback. Joe Flacco is most likely going to continue his career with the Baltimore Ravens via the franchise tag, and Matt Moore and Jason Campbell are only good enough to be decent backup quarterbacks.
There Isn’t Much Quarterback Depth in the 2013 NFL Draft: If Steve Keim decides to cut ties with the injury-prone Kolb, then he might be thinking that he can draft a quarterback that can be able to lead the franchise in the near-future. However, the Cardinals should highly consider NOT drafting a quarterback in the first round, especially considering that the play of both of their offensive tackles last season was consistently inept. And after seeing the latest mock drafts from walterfootball.com, it seems that Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley could all be gone by the time the Cardinals get a chance to draft a quarterback in the second round. In that scenario, the best quarterbacks available would probably be E.J. Manuel, Tyler Bray or Tyler Wilson. All three of these quarterbacks come with their share of question marks, which would make it seem like a huge risk to dump an experienced Kolb in order to draft one of these rookies:
- Manuel might be a great mobile quarterback whose lack of accuracy might come back to bite him, such as the careers of Tavarais Jackson, Vince Young, and JaMarcus Russell;
- Tyler Bray is battling drug problems from his time at Knoxville that are leading to NFL teams questioning his ability to be a leader in the locker room.
- Tyler Wilson is coming off a year where he suffered a nagging concussion injury, so why would the Cardinals dump an injured Kolb for a rookie quarterback that might not also be fully healthy?
Kevin Kolb Was Very Good Despite Terrible Offensive Line: Kevin Kolb looked pretty impressive in 2012: he threw eight touchdown passes to only three interceptions, and he increased his completion percentage to almost 60%. The Achilles’ heal of the Cardinals was their dreadful offensive line, and their awful play led to Kevin Kolb being sacked 27 times in only six games this season. (He was sacked 30 times in nine games in 2011). Some of Kolb’s sacks might have been self-inflicted; However, when a quarterback is being constantly being harassed in the pocket, his ability to read defenses and be aware of how much time he has to throw the ball can be tarnished. The rib injury Kolb suffered after his fifth start of the season was definitely the fault of the offensive line, and to cut ties with Kolb because he hit some bad luck with the terrible nature of the injury seems rather harsh. Furthermore, the Cardinals started the year 4-2 with Kolb playing quarterback for the team, and they finished the season 1-9 without him. These numbers say that Kevin Kolb is not the problem, but their problems are actually a lackluster offensive line and not having an adequate backup quarterback.
The final decision should be giving Kevin Kolb one more chance. After all, "the third time is the charm", and in the case of the Arizona Cardinals, the third year might be the charm for the franchise. It just appears to be a huge risk to dump Kolb purely on salary cap reasons and then be stuck with Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, or a rookie quarterback that is not producing. The 2012 season showed that Kolb has the talent to be an effective starting quarterback; he just needs an above-average offensive line in order to find an open Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Roberts. And don’t count on the San Francisco 49ers trading Alex Smith to the Cardinals; there is no way Jim Harbaugh would want to play against Smith two times in the same season.
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