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Could Kevin Kolb have more trade value than we thought?

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If you‘re like most Eagles fans, you have probably spent the first two Could Kevin Kolb have more trade value than we thought?  Photo: Michael Perez/APweeks of the team‘s offseason pondering at least one of the following questions:
 
*What was Andy Reid doing in Antigua (aside from enjoying the sensuous beaches and exciting night life, of course)?

*Will an Eagles defense in dire need of coordination actually have a coordinator  for the 2011 season?

*Does skipping the Senior Bowl mean that the Head Coach/Executive V.P. of Football Operations plans on drafting all underclassmen in April?
 
Unfortunately, despite a fan base desperate for answers to the aforementioned questions, very few words have been spoken and even fewer hints have been provided by the Eagles’ decision-makers. There does, however, seem to be a bit of clarity developing around the team’s offseason plans for the quarterback position.
 
First, there was Kevin Kolb’s assertion that he wants to be a starting quarterback next season. Then, ESPN reported that the Eagles plan to use their franchise tag on Michael Vick  for the 2011 season. That same ESPN report referenced a source that said the Eagles would also entertain trade offers for Kolb.
 
The fact that the Eagles view Vick as their starting quarterback for the 2011 season came as no surprise. But, it was the first time anyone had reported that the team would consider dealing the young and inexpensive ($1.4 million contract for 2011) Kolb.
 
If the report is true, it would seem to make sense for the Eagles. Despite Vick’s reckless style of play and the feeling of security that an inexpensive Kolb would provide, the end of the Eagles’ season proved that their roster is still in need of upgrades in a number of areas. Those upgrades could be accomplished through the addition of more quality draft picks, including the one(s) that a Kolb trade could land.
 
But, we all know that NFL teams part with 1st and 2nd round picks about as often as Reid implements a run-heavy offensive game plan. Despite their expensive contracts, high round NFL draft picks are viewed as precious commodities by personnel men throughout the league.
 
So, the likelihood of the Eagles getting anything better than a 3rd or 4th rounder for Kolb would seem pretty remote, right?
 
Well, maybe not.
 
Begin by considering just how many teams have serious deficiencies at the quarterback position. That list includes the Panthers, Cardinals, 49ers, Titans, Redskins and Vikings.  That list of six teams could actually grow to nine if the Bills, Browns, and Dolphins decide not to stay the course with their current QB scenarios.  But at the very least, six of the top twelve teams in this April’s draft (four of which feature new coaches) must find a new signal caller or face another disastrous offensive season in 2011.
 
Next, consider that this year’s draft class includes a grand total of zero sure-thing quarterback prospects. With Andrew Luck deciding to enjoy another year as the big man on campus in Palo Alto, the highest rated quarterbacks on most draft boards are (usually in this order): Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Newton, Washington’s Jack Locker, and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. To say that none of these quarterbacks is coveted the way Sam Bradford was one year ago would be a massive understatement.
 
Finally, drafting a quarterback in the first round could mean being locked into an expensive guaranteed contract (pending the new collective bargaining agreement). Based on the 2010 draft, that might mean the Cardinals would be guaranteeing Gabbert somewhere in the range of $35 million before he plays a single NFL snap. If Newton or Locker are drafted in the top 12, their price tags would be somewhere between $15 million and $30 million in guaranteed money.
 
In all seriousness, if you were a general manager drafting in the top 12 and your franchise really needed a quarterback, could you commit your franchise to a $35 million investment for Blaine Gabbert?  Could you spend a top-ten pick and $30 million in hopes that Newton might someday have a 2010 Michael Vick season instead of the much more likely Vince Young career path?
 
So how does this all relate to Kevin Kolb? Well, the Eagles backup has already been trained for 4 years in a pass-happy system, and he comes with an extended warranty of sorts (1 more year under contract for only $1.4 million). And while it’s very unlikely that Kolb would land the Eagles a first round pick, if one of the quarterback deficient teams mentioned above was willing to part with their early second round pick, they could conceivably come out of the draft’s first two rounds with a highly rated college player and an NFL-ready starting quarterback.
 
It should be noted that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is due to expire on March 4th, and if the Eagles wanted to trade Kevin Kolb for a draft pick, a new CBA would have to be in place prior to the April 28th draft. If a new CBA is not settled prior to April 28th, then the Birds would be forced to wait for the new agreement and a Kolb trade would then likely involve 2012 draft picks.
 
But, the relative weakness of this year’s QB draft class and the number of NFL teams that can't possibly face another season of abysmal quarterback play could create a greater demand for Kolb than anyone anticipated. For the Philadelphia Eagles, it may come down to whether they would rather hold onto a solid backup quarterback for one more year, or acquire more pieces to add to their terrific core of young talent.

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net  

Kevin Kolb Photo: AP Michael Perez