|Who ya got: Kevin Kolb or John Skelton (or neither)? (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Ryan Wilson
The 2011 season didn't go quite according to plan for the Arizona Cardinals or quarterback Kevin Kolb. The former started the season 3-7 before winning five of six to get to 8-8; the latter played in just nine games and put up numbers similar to his backup John Skelton. Kolb threw for 1,955 yards, including 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 57.7; Skelton went for 1,913 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, with a 54.9 completion percentage.
Perhaps the most telling numbers: Skelton, 5-2 as a starter, counted $450,000 against the '11 salary cap while Kolb, 3-6 before being sidelined with a toe injury and later a concussion, counted $4,000,000 against the cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13). This comes months after he signed a five-year, $63 million extension and weeks before he's due a $7 million roster bonus.
All this explains the speculation that Kolb could be one and done in Arizona, at least if the right quarterback comes along. Peyton Manning has been name-checked, but that's a long shot for any number of reasons. e
Earlier this week, Cardinals general manager Rod Graves spoke about Kolb's future, particularly with respect to the $7 million bonus coming his way on March 17.
"There's no reason to think at this particular point that we wouldn't proceed with ... seeing the contract through, but things change as we go down the road," Graves said Thursday in an interview on KTAR-AM in Phoenix (via NFL.com).
Maybe Year 2 will be better than Year 1, but it's still not clear why the Cardinals thought enough of Kolb to send the Eagles Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and second-round pick, and then signed Kolb to a $63 million extension that included $20 million in guarantees. But what's done is done. And while it would be a mistake to stick by Kolb simply because Arizona owes him a lot of money, it doesn't sound like that's in the plans.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who appeared with Rod Graves Thursday, was asked about the quarterback situation.
“Well the easiest thing to say right now is that we are in a heck of a lot better position at the quarterback position than we were a year ago today," he said via SportsRadioInterviews.com.
(By the way, this is what happens when you go from Kurt Warner to Derek Anderson, but only after giving up on Matt Leinart.)
"We’ve got two guys that we feel like can play (in Skelton and Kolb)," Whisenhunt continued. "They’ve shown at times that they can do things, they’ve shown at times that they are knuckleheads and it’s our job to get the players there on our team to play better. That’s what we’re going to do and I feel excited about that. I feel better about our quarterbacks on our team right now than I did last year from the standpoint of John Skelton; he won a lot of games for us over the last half of the season. At this time last year he was a rookie who played four games and that was it.
"Of course Kevin Kolb, we saw a lot of good things from him. The second half of the Dallas game was very impressive and more of what we were getting and the first game against Carolina and then against Washington, he made some plays for us and I think both of these guys are going to get better with having an offseason and being able to work on some of the things we feel is going to make them better. So I’m excited about it.”
So, will Skelton and Kolb compete for the starting gig?
"We’re always opening it up to let other guys compete for spots and the best players are going to play," Whisenhunt said. "That’s the nature of this league, that’s the nature of this game, and that’s the way we go about business. ... [W]hen you talk about the quarterback position that’s something that both guys are going to get opportunities because John certainly deserves it from the way that he played over the back half of the season and Kevin certainly deserves it from the reason that we went out, got him, and brought him in."
Which all seems perfectly reasonable unless Skelton actually wins the job. Then the Cards will have a guy on the bench counting $10 million against the cap (not to mention that $7 million roster bonus).
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