By process of elimination, the Bengals future quarterback situation might be getting a bit clearer. The team's overtures to Carson Palmer look to be over. The guy simply doesn't want to be here. End of story. So trade him, let him retire, but move on. It also now appears that one of the players potentially targeted as Palmer's replacement can be scratched off the list, as it's being reported that Kevin Kolb, current Eagles backup and Michael Vick's straight-man, is asking for a "lucrative" multi-year deal if he's traded, and it sounds like the expected deal is upwards of the 6-year, $48 million the Texans gave Matt Schaub in 2007 when they traded for him.
It was always a pretty outside shot that the team would go after Kolb, especially since the lockout is precluding any trades right now and the team needs to get someone in asap to start working with new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's system, but ifwas listening before, I suspect he now has his fingers stuck in his ears.
Kolb and the Bengals have been linked for months, rumors that the team has tried to shoot down. Among the names that have been bandied about as replacements for Palmer, Kolb has always been the sexiest option -- a guy with some NFL experience, but not enough to have put a lot of wear-and-tear on his body (playing in only 19 games in four years), who's shown flashes of brilliance (last season's game against Atlanta where he was 23-29, 326 yards, 3 TDs, and one pick), learned under Andy Reid and his version of the WCO, and is still pretty young (26). Kolb is also the safest bet for the team right now considering the questionable quarterback draft class and the tepid pool of free agents including the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, and possibly Vince Young. He's a guy you'd feel comfortable starting right away, and one who's been praised for his leadership skills, something the team desperately needs. There's also the fact that former Eagles assistant offensive coordinator (and quarterbacks coach from 2009-10) James Urban is the Bengals new wide receivers coach, which has further motivated speculation that the team is interested in Kolb.
But if Kolb is really asking for big money, it's hard to see the team pursuing him, or many other teams for that matter:
"There's no way I pay him like a proven guy," said an executive in personnel for an AFC team. "If you give up a one, that's your guy. You're going to ride with him, so you're going to pay him. But you've still got to make sure that the finances are such that it's based on what he's proven. Whether you're dealing with the agent or not, he has to understand I'm paying part of the price in draft picks."
It makes sense that Kolb would expect starter money if a team trades for him to be their starter. At the beginning of last season, the Eagles anticipated Kolb running the show and gave him a guaranteed $12.26 million extension through 2011. That sum includes a $10.7 million signing bonus, so Kolb's base salary for next season is only $1.392. That's peanuts for starting QB, which explains why Kolb's looking for more in a new extension.
"You can't trade for the guy" without working out a contract extension, said an NFL source who has explored Kolb's situation. "He's not going to play for what he's making right now in the last year of his contract."
Of course, Kolb's agent is doing what agents do in seeking out more money, and surely if Kolb gets the opportunity to start somewhere his contract demands will come down. But if he is going to cost a first (and maybe a third or more, depending on who you're listening to) as well as $8-ish or more million a year, I can't envision the Bengals, a team with so many needs to fill in the draft and possibly through free agency when it comes (QB, OL, S, DT, CB) burning up so much of their powder here.
Kolb may be well worth the team's pick at number four, but then you're passing up on a guy like A. J. Green and banking on WRs Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell producing like they did at the end of last season. You're also going to have to work out a long-term extension, which problematizes the idea of them drafting a guy like Kaepernick or Mallet in the second round and grooming him to start in a year or two. Plus, it's not like Kolb has burned the house down in the time he has played (career passer rating of 73.2). So if you wanna fix the offense do you draft Green and a rookie quarterback, or do you draft Kolb and see what's left in the second round? This is, of course, assuming the Eagles trade Kolb. They may simply choose to hold onto him as insurance against Vick running himself into a major injury (although it makes too much sense for them to get a first-rounder if they can).
I like Kolb; I like him a lot. And I'd love to see him as the Bengals QB next season (even moreso since I signed him to a long term contract in my fantasy keeper league). But attaining him is too risky for this team. Someone will bite on Kolb, regardless of the price, but I doubt it's gonna be the Bengals.