It continues to seem unlikely that the Eagles will be able to deal Kevin Kolb for 2011 draft picks.
But that hasn't stopped league-wide conversation surrounding the future of the Birds' quarterback.
The latest item on the topic is a column by Tom Pelissero from 1500 ESPN in Minnesota. Pelissero writes about a topic that we've heard before - that a potential new contract for Kolb could limit the number of teams that are willing to trade for him:
According to league sources, Kolb's agents have spread the word they're seeking a multi-year deal from any team that acquires him, with a price tag one NFL decision-maker said is "significant enough to make me nervous," considering how little the former University of Houston star has played.
"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."
As I've written before, I would be surprised if Kolb's contract really becomes a major issue in any potential deals, and here are the reasons why:
1. First and foremost, he wants to be traded. You might even say he desperately wants to be traded. Does the money have to be right? Sure. But is Kolb's camp really going to risk having him spend yet another year in Philadelphia as the backup for the possible payoff of being able to get a slightly better contract as a free agent after next season? I don't see it.
The guy wants to start, and he wants to start now. That doesn't mean he'll do it for cheap, but I believe that does mean he'll accept a reasonable deal. As for his agents spreading word about a new contract, that's their job: to get the best deal they can for their client.
2. The idea that Kolb would have to agree on a new contract with a new team before a trade can be finalized has been assumed (from my perspective) ever since this conversation began. But the team will want to have a new deal in place as much as (actually, more than) Kolb's camp. Think about it. Why would a franchise want to give up a first-round pick (and maybe more) for a guy who was guaranteed to for only one year? It would make no sense. It wouldn't be unprecedented. We saw the Redskins trade for Donovan McNabb last offseason without having a new deal in place. But Kolb is younger and the price for him (in terms of picks and/or players) will be greater than what Washington gave up for McNabb.
3. Teams pay for franchise quarterbacks. And while Kolb is unproven to a large degree, so was Sam Bradford, who got a reported $78M ($50M guaranteed) over six years before ever playing a down in the NFL. The Chiefs paid Matt Cassel $63M ($28M guaranteed) over six years after he had one year of experience as a starter in New England.
Will it be a risk to trade a first-rounder for Kolb and then give him a sizable deal? Sure. But I don't see how it's any different than what teams do every offseason. I understand that Bradford signed a rookie deal as the No. 1 pick, and the circumstances are different here, but the point is that if a club believes Kolb can be its franchise quarterback, it will be willing to shell out the money to show him that. I think it's really that simple.
Pelissero has some other interesting nuggets. He asked four personnel men if they'd give up a first-round pick for Kolb. Three gave a qualified yes, and one gave a firm no.
He also expresses a notion that we've heard before: that the Eagles are "difficult to deal with" on trades.
While that might be true, let's keep in mind that the Eagles made trades involving players (not just draft picks) with the following teams last year: the Patriots, Seahawks, Broncos, Lions, Redskins, Browns and Bucs. Add in draft-day deals, and the Chargers, Cowboys and Packers make that list too. That's 10 teams, or nearly a third of the league, that the Eagles made trades with in 2010.
A well-connected league source tells Pelissero that three logical teams that could be interested in dealing for Kolb are the Dolphins, 49ers and Vikings. I've been saying for a few weeks now that I think Minnesota makes a lot of sense as a potential suitor.
The way things stand now, the big issue will likely become whether the Eagles are willing to make a deal for something other than 2011 draft picks. Will they be willing to accept 2012 picks? Will they be able to get creative and perhaps fill a defensive need with a player instead of a pick?
Those are questions we don't have answers to, and won't have answers to until the league and the players form a resolution (or at least until rules are put into place for player movement in 2011).
But with this year's draft less than two weeks away, it seems like that's the next direction we'll be heading in with the Kolb situation.