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Tag:Kevin Kolb
Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:46 pm
 

Report: Manning 'put out feelers' to Cardinals


Earlier on Thursday, I whipped up a little opus relating to the teams who have likely (maybe? definitely?) contacted Peyton Manning about his interest in their respective franchises.

One of those interested teams was the Arizona Cardinals. It appears, based on a report from Adam Schein of FOXSports.com, that the feeling is mutual. 

That's because, according to Schein, Manning "put out feelers" to the Cardinals about their level of interest.

Schein also writes that Manning is "very intrigued" about the possibility of playing with star wideout Larry Fitzgerald and that Manning "also likes Arizona's young, talented defense."

Additionally, Manning likes the idea of "bringing along [Reggie] Wayne as his wingman," which is something we've heard rumored before.

This all makes sense: these are the reasons I laid out when I listed the Cardinals as the No. 1, most-likely destination for Manning this offseason.

However, Arizona does have one problem: a tiny window with which to talk to Manning. Kevin Kolb is due a roster bonus of $7 million on March 17. That's 10 days from when Manning became a free agent and it's not as if the entire league has their quarterback situation sewn up.

Manning is a wanted man and he probably wants to see what various teams have to offer. Of course, those various teams also want to see what Manning has to offer. At some point in the next week or so, he has to throw for teams that are interested. (I mean, right?)

If that throwing session doesn't happen until free agency actually begins on March 13, the Cardinals will be in a tightly-squeezed situation that could be difficult to resolve.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:43 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Where will Peyton Manning play in 2012?

Where will Peyton play in 2012? And will it feature Wayne? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Peyton Manning, by the end of the week, will no longer be a member of the Colts. It could happen as soon as Wednesday, but it's happening. It's the end of an era, and a new one is going to start soon.


But where? Manning is going to play somewhere and he's going to have his choice of a couple of nice spots. Let's break down where he might end up and why each of the potential landing spots does or does not make sense.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona's always been my personal favorite landing spot for Manning, mainly because they did this same thing with Kurt Warner many moons ago and had great success. Also, you'd have to think they'd like to get out of having Kevin Kolb, and the Bidwell family isn't shy about grabbing big-name veterans.

Pros: Larry Fitzgerald. Also: Larry Fitzgerald. Did we mention Larry Fitzgerald? Seriously though, Fitz is one of the best receivers in the game and he's put up monster stats with mediocre quarterbacks. Arizona's got a defense that came on strong late last year. They play in a relatively weak division; regardless of San Fran's success in 2011, they would be the favorite to win the NFC West with a healthy Manning. Their running game is decent enough, especially if Ryan Williams can return. Reggie Wayne would make this offense hum too. Perhaps Arizona's biggest advantage? They have a domed stadium with natural grass.

Cons: Their offense line needs work, but that's where free agency and the draft comes in. They have a commitment to Kevin Kolb due on March 17, which means the window to land Manning is incredibly short. They can't risk whiffing on Peyton and coughing up Kolb.
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Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins also make sense for a number of reasons (see: below), but primarily because they've desperately craved a quarterback since Dan Marino left town. It's the worst-kept secret in the NFL that ownership wants to make the offense a little sexier to bump up ticket sales. Peyton would do that.

Pros: South Beach, where Manning has a condo, is very nice this time of year, provided "this time of year" means "always." The Dolphins have one of the best left tackles in the game in Jake Long to shore up Manning's blindside. Brandon Marshall and Davonne Bess, with the addition of Reggie Wayne and/or Pierre Garcon is a filthy receiving corps. Reggie Bush was a feature back last year, somehow, but would be even more effective playing out of a Peyton-styled offense. They have lots of talent on the defense and could compete right away with Manning. There is no quarterback to worry about replacing. They play the Dolphins in South Beach.

Cons: The division is one of the toughest in the NFL. Peyton would have to play Tom Brady twice a year (although that's awesome for the rest of us). Joe Philbin, the new head coach, comes from Green Bay which means he could be in love with Matt Flynn. That could potentially make it awkward for Manning if owner Stephen Ross is set on Manning and Philbin is not. The media is not afraid to swarm on people who move to South Beach -- just ask LeBron James.

Seattle Seahawks

Since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle, it's been assumed that at some point he'd make a play for a franchise quarterback. Thus far, the only plays he'd made are trading for Charlie Whitehurst and signing Tarvaris Jackson. Seattle still a "sleeper" for Manning, but landing him would absolutely represent the final piece in Carroll's "master plan."

Pros: The Seahawks need to improve a little at guard, but they've got a lot invested in an offensive line that played well late last year and could keep Manning on his feet. A Manning-less Cardinals team means the Seahawks would absolutely challenge for the division title. There is only Tarvaris Jackson to unseat. The Seahawks have a better defense than a lot of people want to give them credit for, particularly the secondary. Carroll and GM John Schneider are not afraid to be aggressive. Or enthusiastic. So that's a plus.

Cons: The offense weapons are not great. Sidney Rice is the top receiver. Marshawn Lynch just signed a big deal, although he'd theoretically be more effective with Peyton under center. Obviously Wayne/Garcon would be nice additions. Weather and the outdoors of Seattle are not a plus.

Washington Redskins

Peyton's been attached to the Redskins because Daniel Snyder likes to spend money on shiny things with big names. And he's got at doing it, so regardless of whether or not the marriage makes sense, it's entirely possible.

Pros: Straight cash, homey: if Peyton wants to make the most money without worrying about incentives, I gotta think Washington's his spot. Mike Shanahan is desperate, so he'd probably be willing to cede some control to Peyton. This Skins defense would've been much better if they hadn't had to deal with the anemic offense Washington trotted out last year. The running game is fungible, thanks to Shanahan and would help Peyton.

Cons: The Redskins lack offensive weapons, but could bring in Wayne and Garcon if they wanted to keep playing with Peyton. Does Shanahan's system, which involves rolling out quarterbacks, really fit Manning? I say no. The media scene in Washington, with all due respect to my colleagues, can be a bit of a trainwreck. There is tons of coverage of the tiniest stories there. Peyton will have to play his little brother Eli Manning twice a year. He can't possibly want to do that and/or compete with Eli for a division title annually. What happens if Robert Griffin III blows up and Peyton struggles -- will people question the decision not to trade up? That's a serious question.

New York Jets

Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum refused to kill off the rumors about Manning heading to New York and thusly, these rumors live on.

Pros: The Jets are seen as a contender, even if their defense took steps back last year. There are weapons: Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene are decent enough. Reports indicate the Jets might be willing to dump Holmes to land Wayne. The offensive line has some legit talent on it; center Nick Mangold particularly stands out. The Jets have gone the big-name veteran route before, trading for Brett Favre. The Super Bowl will be in New York in 2014.

Cons: It's New York, which means the scrutiny on Manning is going to be amplified a billion times more than anywhere else. Manning is not a "spotlight" guy. Peyton would have to share the city with his brother; though that might be OK from a "having enough space" perspective, do you really think that either one of them wants to hear a million questions about each other at every press conference. The Jets locker room was a disaster last year and there's no guarantee (none, says Rex Ryan!) that it'll be better this year. The Jets play the Patriots twice a year. The Jets don't have the greatest setup for weather/stadium when it comes to helping Peyton.

Kansas City Chiefs

This is where we go from "sleeper" status to "darkhorse" candidate; the Chiefs actually make a lot of sense from a personnel and situational perspective, but is it really a fit? I'm not so sure.

Pros: The Chiefs are a bounceback candidate in 2012, thanks to guys like Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles returning from injury. Charles, Moeaki, Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston create a formidable set of offensive weapons. They play the Colts in Arrowhead. Matt Cassel is the primary competition, but he's not a tremendous salary-cap burden in 2012.

Cons: Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel are Patriots guys. Is that considered the dark side? That's serious: could Peyton play for Patriots midwest or whatever you want to call the Chiefs? It really seems like a long shot. Crennel might actually have tampering charges filed against him.

San Francisco 49ers

If any team is "one guy away," it's the 49ers. And that's why you can't count them out. Plus, Peyton Manning replaced Jim Harbaugh in Indy, and Peyton Manning's getting replaced by Andrew Luck, who was coached by ... Jim Harbaugh. Stew on that one for a minute.

Pros: The 49ers are a stacked team, outside of quarterback and wide receiver. Vernon Davis is a freakshow target and this team has room for Wayne/Garcon. Their defense is one of the best in the NFL. They were a Kyle Williams fumble away from making the Super Bowl. They have no quarterback: Alex Smith is going to be a free agent too.

Cons: Harbaugh's gotten behind Smith the whole way and he seems genuinely convinced that Smith can be his guy long term. The 49ers would be throwing a lot of progress away if they went after Manning and he wasn't healthy, so there is a lot of risk here.

Houston Texans

Yeah, we're getting nuts. The Texans are a real long shot, especially with Matt Schaub under center. But Schaub's closing in on the end of his deal

Pros: This offense is loaded obviously. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, one of the best offensive lines in the league, Owen Daniels, Ben Tate -- a lot of talent here. They get to play the Colts twice a year and this would be the ultimate spite move.

Cons: There's so much risk involved in doing this for the Texans, it's just too hard to fathom. They have T.J. Yates if Manning doesn't pan out, but they definitely thought they could win the Super Bowl had Schaub stayed healthy last year. No cap room.

Denver Broncos

Again, we are deep here people. Don't judge me. You know John Elway wants a "real" quarterback. And there are probably only one or two that could actually take the wind out of Tim Tebow's sails. Peyton is one of them.

Pros: See above; the Broncos want an under-center QB and Peyton would trump Tebowmania. (I think.) They have a talented defense. They play in a weak division.

Cons: The Broncos have an OK offense, with Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 7:22 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 2:10 am
 

Rams will deal No. 2 overall pick

The RG3 sweepstakes gains momentum after the combine. (Getty Images, US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The NFL Draft is two months off, but this much is certain: some team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback will trade up to the No. 2 spot and take Robert Griffin III, which was confirmed by CBSSports.com NFL Insider Pat Kirwan. This is great news for the Rams, who currently own the second pick. While St. Louis has its own franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, they have plenty of other needs.

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On Friday, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote about Griffin's future, noting that "League sources maintain at least three teams are strongly considering moving up in a blockbuster deal with the Rams to snag Griffin. Those teams, sources say, include Washington, Miami and Seattle. Team officials also say Cleveland has interest in trading up, though not as much as other teams." 

Freeman added that "It will likely take two No. 1 picks (at least) to make that trade, and the reason is some teams view Griffin as similarly talented as Luck or such a close facsimile in terms of potential that the difference isn't a great one."

RG3 had a nice showing at the combine and in Peter King's "Monday Morning Quarterback" column he writes that "The Rams will drive a hard bargain. Cleveland (fourth overall pick), Washington (sixth) and Miami (eighth) will be in the derby to move up; Seattle (12) and a couple of mystery teams could be, too. Add the fact that the money involved (four years, about $22 million) is likely to be less than the money paid to the top (current) free agent Matt Flynn, and the market for Griffin will be hopping."

That last point can't be emphasized enough. Right or wrong, Flynn's getting paid, just like Kevin Kolb did last year. If teams truly are sold on RG3's potential, then the new CBA means that trading up, by itself, isn't cost prohibitive -- although that could change based on the Rams' asking price. (ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Monday night that the Rams could get a deal similar to what the Chargers got for Eli Manning in 2004: two first-rounders, a third-rounder, and a fifth-rounder.)

A possible monkey wrench for teams not located in DC: the Redskins have a history of overpaying for talent, although they've been much better about it in recent years. Still, we liken owner Daniel Snyder's approach to player personnel to that of a prospective homebuyer who waives the home inspection and offers $40,000 over asking. It's a no-holds barred approach that ultimately doesn't work -- in real estate or for the 'Skins.

But the heart wants what the heart wants. And if Snyder is convinced that RG3 is the answer in Washington, we wouldn't be surprised if he had a roster-building relapse. Other potential suitors would be priced out of the bidding, which is great news for the Rams. Still, even if the 'Skins show restraint in the race for RG3, St. Louis should benefit.

"The whole paradigm has changed in several ways,'' Rams COO Kevin Demoff told King Saturday night. "Griffin could be cheaper than Flynn. The fact that you can get a potential franchise quarterback for what the top picks are paid now makes it easier to justify trading a lot for it.''

And fear not, RG3 sweepstakes losers. CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco tweets an important point:

PriscoCBS
For teams that might rush to trade up to No. 2 to get Griffin, just remember Matt Barkley and other QBs will be in next year's draft.
2/27/12 5:59 PM

The problem, of course, is that there's no guarantee that those quarterback-needy teams in range of RG3 this offseason will have similar opportunities to draft Barkley a year from now. That risk has to be weighed against the cost of getting Griffin now, as well as exploring other options, like trying to sign Flynn.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:08 pm
 

Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their roster, are considered a candidate to land Peyton Manning if/when he's released by the Colts. CBS Sports Charley Casserly first talked about this way back in January, and with Arizona's freedom to get out of Kolb's contract before March 17, speculation has only increased.

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Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, speaking Thursday at the NFL combine, did nothing to quell that speculation, leaving the door wide open for the possibility of making a change at quarterback.

"We're about opportunities to get better," Graves said when asked about the Cardinals depth at quarterback. "Everyone out there associated with our team understands that this is a competitive game and we're all looking to get better. So if those opportunities present themselves, so be it. Otherwise we've got an outstanding group of quarterbacks right now.

"We believe we can win with those quarterbacks and we're preparing as if they're going to be the group we're working with and we'll see what other opportunities present themselves if that happens."

So what about the bonus due to Kolb on March 17? Have the Cardinals talked about whether or not they're going to exercise it?

"No, we haven't had any discussions about that," Whisenhunt, not looking entirely pleased to be asked about it, said.

Graves was less direct about the discussions surrounding the Kolb decision, but also made it pretty clear (without being too precise) that the Cardinals will explore options if and when they become available.

"Every day you have to work with the information you have at hand," Graves said. "Right now as I look at it, we fully expect that Kevin's going to be with us so we'll honor the contract as it is, obviously. But we'll see what every day brings forward and we'll make that decision accordingly. Right now, as it stands today, we're not anticipating anything different."

Based on what Whisenhunt and Graves said, it's unfair to simply state that the Cardinals will ditch Kolb and chase Manning. But it's also pretty clear that such a process is something they haven't ruled out as of right now.

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Posted on: February 18, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 1:31 pm
 

Matt Flynn eager for free agency, chance to start

Flynn loves Green Bay but he also wants to be a starter. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Assuming that Peyton Manning isn't in line for some Mr. Miyagi-style healing in the coming weeks, conventional wisdom is that Packers backup Matt Flynn will be the most sought after quarterback in free agency.

Through no fault of his own, Flynn has drawn comparisons to Kevin Kolb, a former Eagles second-round pick who was traded to the Cardinals prior to the 2011 season for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick, and then promptly signed a $63 million extension, including $20 million in guarantees.

Kolb made seven starts during his four years in Philly, but was underwhelming in nine games as Arizona's starter last season.

Flynn, meanwhile, has two career starts and his numbers in those games are astounding: 55 of 81 for 731 yards (67.9 completion percentage), nine touchdowns, two interceptions and eight sacks. By comparison, Kolb's numbers in his seven starts for the Eagles: 148 for 239 (61.9 completion percentage), 10 TDs, 9 INTs, 15 sacks.

Free agency doesn't begin until March 13 and unless the Packers decide to re-sign Flynn before then, there's not much he can do.

"I'm a confident person but the element of the unknown makes you wish March 13 was tomorrow," Flynn said this week according to Sports Illustrated. "I've loved being a Packer, and it's not 100 percent sure I'm leaving Green Bay, but as a competitor and football player, that's what you play the game for -- to be a starter in the league. Hopefully some teams will be interested in me and I can find a good opportunity. I want to lead a team and I'm excited about it. But I can't talk to teams now. I don't know if I'm on their radar. It's going to be a long month leading up to that time -- waiting and wondering."

The Dolphins are the front runners for Flynn's services. Former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is Miami's new head coach and he knows Flynn well. And unlike Kolb's situation in Arizona -- he hadn't worked previously with Ken Whisenhunt and the Cards' offense is nothing like the Eagles' -- Flynn would likely be running a version of the Packers' offense in Miami.

"You can have all the confidence in the world but those two NFL starts were important for me and more important for my teammates, especially the New England game (in 2010)," Flynn said. "After that, they knew if something happened to Aaron, I could keep us competitive."

During a conference call with reporters earlier this week, NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock called Flynn "interesting."

“When you look at the history of quarterbacks that were back-up guys and played a few games and then moved on and got paid a lot of money, there’s been mixed results there," he said. "… The bottom line to me, the league has minimal amount of tape on him and the league didn’t think that highly on him coming out of college.”

That's not to say players can't grow, especially in their first few years in the league (if that was an absolute truth, Tom Brady wouldn't be married to Gisele Bundchen). Still, concerns remain: “Over eight, 10 games when the league has a chance to get tape on Matt Flynn, how effective will he be?” Mayock asked. 

But such issues aren't unusual; the Dolphins are intimately familiar trying to find a franchise quarterback.

(This is quite possibly one of the saddest lists you'll ever see; after Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season, Miami's top passers in the 12 seasons since include Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Matt Moore.)

As for those Peyton-to-South Beach rumors that were swirling during Super Bowl week, Flynn's not paying attention.

"I try not to worry about things I can't control so there's no reason to have negative thoughts about that, " he told SI. "My goal is to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and all I can ask for is an opportunity to find a good situation with a team that wants me. And then go there and have success."

For now we wait. Free agency doesn't start for another three weeks.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Whisenhunt: Skelton, Kolb will get opportunities

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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Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:32 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:03 pm
 

Report: Ravens, Flacco to talk contract next week

Baltimore regards Flacco as the future of the franchise, apparently. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

When we ran down possible destinations for Peyton Manning in 2012, we left the Ravens off the list because they already have, in theory, a franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco. Many folks would disagree. But, apparently, not the Ravens.

According to Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, the Ravens and Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, will sit down in Indianapolis at the 2012 NFL Combine to talk about getting Flacco a new, long-term contract.

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LaCanfora writes that the Ravens are "committed to keeping the 2008 first-round pick." There's no secret that Flacco wants to get paid: Flacco said during the regular season that he deserved a new contract with the Ravens based on his performance.

"It is what it is," Flacco said at the time. "It's either going to happen at some point or it's not. The bottom line is I'm not too worried about it either way. Do I feel like I deserve one? Yeah. Do I feel like I'm going to get one? Yeah. If I don't get one, is it going to be a huge deal? No, it is what it is. It's not really up to me. It's up to me to go out there and focus on my play each and every game and put our team in the best spot to win a football game."

This is a mantra Flacco's repeated for some time now; that the Ravens are finally willing to talk turkey means that either they were a) as impressed with Flacco's playoff performance as our own Clark Judge was; or b) they understand that the "known" of Flacco is better than the "unknown."

The unknown being, of course, whoever else might be out there in free agency or the draft after the 2012 season. (If they tried to franchise him after the coming season, there would be some evil laughter and giddy fu-manchu rubbing as Flacco sprinted to sign that guaranteed contract.)

Based on what John Harbaugh's said before, it sounds like their answer is (a).

"I've said it many times," Harbaugh said. "I think his best football is in front of him. He only gets better. He's our kind of guy. He's a tough guy. He's a competitive guy. He's a leader. And I just can't wait to see where this thing goes with him. We are proud to have him as our quarterback."

So the question then becomes: how much is Flacco worth? Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel both got contracts that paid them more than $60 million, with $20 million and $28 million guaranteed, respectively. (Kolb signed a five-year extension, while Cassel signed a six-year deal.)

There's no way Baltimore can get away with paying Flacco less than those guys. He's 44-20 in his career, he's started every single game since his rookie season, he's got a completion percentage over 60, he's got 11 game-winning drives and an 80:46 touchdown record.

He's also won five playoff games in four years and was one Lee Evans drop (or one accurate deep ball to Torrey Smith, if you prefer) away from taking the Ravens to the Super Bowl last year. He outplayed Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game.

Kolb's never played more than nine games in a season (!), or thrown for more than 2,000 yards. Flacco's average season with Baltimore dwarfs Cassel's average season with New England and Kansas City.

So unless he's taking a serious hometown discount, Flacco's going to get north of $10 million a year and $30 million in guaranteed money. That's a lot of cheese. It's going to be extremely interesting to see how Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell can help Flacco grow over the next few years.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com