The Arizona Cardinals have finally accomplished their number one goal this offseason. They have landed their starting quarterback. But it comes at quite a cost. The Cards gave up a second round pick in 2012 and former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to pry Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles. Not to mention, Arizona also gave Kolb a brand new contract. He will get a five year deal worth just under 64 million dollars. That seems like a whole lot to give up for a relatively unproven quarterback that has spent almost all of his career as a backup right? Wrong. While the former Houston gunslinger has made just seven career starts and he has more interceptions than touchdowns in his young career, the Cardinals needed a quarterback of the future. Now they have that in Kevin Kolb. Kolb has good size, he has a strong enough arm to make the throws necessary, he can allude pressure, he is very accurate, he has been tutored by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb for years, and just needs an opportunity to prove it over the course of a full season. Now he’s going to get that shot and playing in the NFC West, the weakest division in the NFL, the opportunity is there for the Cards to take back their crown. That wasn’t going to happen until they addressed the Grand Canyon sized hole under center.
On top of that Arizona needs to keep one of the best wide receivers in the game from leaving the desert after his contract expires. Having a quarterback like Kolb who can actually deliver the ball accurately should speak volumes to Larry Fitzgerald about the team’s drive to get back into the playoffs. It should help keep the face of the franchise in the valley. There’s no doubt that there are legitimate questions about Kolb. He’s not Kurt Warner, he has a ton to prove still, and he certainly hasn’t earned the kind of contract that he is going to get, but if bringing Kolb to Arizona keeps Fitz happy, if it keeps him from leaving in free agency, and it gets the Cardinals back to the top of the NFC West, nobody will be thinking about the cost the Cards had to pay to bring Kolb to the desert. Without the trade yesterday, the Cardinals were going to head into the 2011 season with Max Hall and John Skelton as the signal callers. Despite the price tag, they needed to swing the deal because otherwise it would’ve been another disastrous season in the desert. Instead, after just one huge offseason move, the Cardinals just became the favorites in the most winnable division in the NFL. Ken Whisenhunt joined XTRA 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to talk about trading for Kevin Kolb, what he has seen from Kolb that he likes so much, how tough it will be for Kolb to get adapted to a new offense, how tough it was to part with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and how this trade effects the future of Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona.
How he feels after the trade:
“There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of uncertainty but as far as getting a quarterback and being excited about that and getting back to football, yeah I’m pretty pumped.”
What he has seen from Kolb that he likes so much:
“I’ve seen him in NFL games, I’ve seen the way he handles pressure, the way he handles the huddle, and the way he does things as far as what the normal quarterbacks do in this league. A lot of times when you’re looking at a college guy you don’t have that information as far as handling the sophistication of NFL defenses. I’ve seen him make the tight window throw, the accurate throw down the field, he can bang it on the skinny post, he can make the out throw, have mobility in the pocket, and one of the most intriguing things that I’m looking forward to seeing is the intangibles. The ability to will yourself to be successful is what I see in the makeup of this kid. A lot of that has been gotten by talking to Andy Reid and talking with people that have been around him. I’m excited about that. A lot of the qualities that you look for in a quarterback, has good size, got a good arm, and got all that, but some of the other things that I really like that I think will fit well with our offense.”
How quick he thinks he will be able to pick up the offense:
“I wish I could tell you that. I think it will be a little quicker with him because he’s been in an offense that’s pretty sophisticated, that requires a lot of the quarterback as far as terminology, making reads, getting guys in and out of the right formation, and making checks. I think that will help him translate into what we’re trying to get done. We’ll see. We’re gonna push him, we’re gonna obviously limit our installation as far as that goes early that’s our plan. That’s a lot of what we’ve been working on. We’re hopefully gonna grow pretty quickly and he will pick it up. It’s not gonna be where it would be after having gone through OTA’s minicamps, and a spring together but I’m excited to see how far we can push it in a short time.”
On trading away Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
“It’s probably one of the hardest things that you have to do. You develop relationships with players, especially ones that you draft and you’ve seen grow and you develop and especially one that has made big plays for us like Dominique has. It was very difficult. When it was first proposed to us to trade Dominique my first reaction was no. I said I wasn’t going to do that and I think that’s because you have an emotional reaction to your players. Obviously Philadelphia felt very strongly about that and you have to make a decision to get the deal done. It was very difficult, but in looking at our football team and knowing the importance of a quarterback, you had to make the decision. Were you gonna do it or were you not? I had a great conversation with Dominique today and it was a very emotional one. That’s part of this business, but it was a very tough one.”
How important it was to keep the first round pick:
“Very important. That’s a player you feel can have an impact on your team, become a starter, and do some things for you. Hopefully we won’t be able to get that guy until the 32nd pick next year but it is important. I think everybody now puts a lot of value on a first round pick. It was important that we did preserve that.”
On the comments that Mike Florio made about the trade either saving his job or leading to him getting fired:
“I respect your assessment of the trade and what it means to both cities and Mike Florio has his opinion as everybody does. That may very well be the case, I don’t know, but the way I look at it is we want to win football games. We want to go back to being division champs and making a run to the Super Bowl. That was a pretty damn good feeling and I think our fans enjoyed that. I think everybody would agree to a man in order for us to do that we had to get a quarterback. Whether this guy is that quarterback I certainly feel that way. I was willing to do that deal because I felt it was important for our team. Ultimately we’re gonna be judged by how that happens and how he plays. I think it’s difficult when you have a draft pick at that position that didn’t work out for ya its difficult to recover from that. This is one of the ways you have to do that. We said that we were gonna address the position, it was important to us, and we feel like we have done that. I think you have to feel that way especially with what we’ve given up. Time will tell and I’m very comfortable to see how that plays out.”
How this impact effects Larry Fitzgerald’s future in Arizona:
“Obviously we haven’t had contact in a while. I’ve had contact with Larry since we’ve been back to work. He’s fired up about our season and what we’re trying to get done. I think he knows Kevin or has had some kind of contact with Kevin before. I know that from my discussions with him in the past just about different quarterbacks he’s always liked Kevin. My sense is Larry wants to be with our football team and he wants to be an Arizona Cardinal. When a player has had success like Larry has, that’s been to the playoffs, that has a big part of it. I think he wants to see that the team is going in the right direction toward going to football games. I certainly believe he will feel that this move is a big part of addressing that. I do believe it will have a positive effect on Larry.”