NEW ORLEANS - For the second straight year, the Eagles contingent arrived at the NFL owners meetings with a surplus of quarterbacks.
The Eagles can't trade Kevin Kolb over the next two days, but they can have discussions about the QB. And if coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman receive an offer to their liking, it sounds more and more as if they will pull the trigger and deal Kolb.
"Obviously, there's a lot of interest in a player like Kevin Kolb," Roseman said at the Roosevelt Hotel, where the league's power players gathered Sunday. "We're trying to win a championship. Whatever it does to help us improve our team - that's with the players we have on our team, or a player from outside our team - we're going to look at."
A Kolb trade at this point, however, is pure speculation. The lockout by the owners has shut down the business of player movement, and there won't be free agency or trades until there is a new collective bargaining agreement.
But there is a caveat. If the courts rule in favor of the players' injunction request next month, the lockout would be lifted and the league would resume business. Kolb would, presumably, then be there for the taking. And the 26-year-old is considered to be one of the more attractive commodities on the market.
"There are a lot of teams looking for quarterbacks," Roseman said. "It's a quarterback-driven league. And when you have a quarterback who's proven what he can do in the NFL and has the characteristics that Kevin Kolb has, there's going to be a lot of interest from teams."
The questions, then, are: How much interest is there, and how much are teams willing to offer? Kolb's value is probably not as great as it was a year ago. But there were other available quarterbacks (see: McNabb, Donovan) at that time, and the draft was stronger in terms of talent. This year, the crop is thin.
"When you look at the history of quarterbacks getting drafted, you're not looking at a group that's a slam-dunk to begin with," Roseman said.
Kolb's worth, though, is up for argument. The Eagles point to the guy who was nearly flawless in a victory over the Atlanta Falcons last year, while doubters point out his poor performance against Tennessee and his 81.1 passer rating in six career starts.
"You've got a bird in the hand, in terms of a guy who's played at a high level and played against top-level competition," Roseman said.
There are approximately a dozen teams in need of a starting quarterback. The entire NFC West - minus St. Louis - can be thrown into that mix. Arizona and San Francisco own the fifth and seventh overall draft picks. If the Eagles' asking price is a first-rounder, those two teams could be out of the picture.
Seattle, though, has the 25th selection, two spots after the Eagles. Of course, the Eagles may be willing to part with Kolb for an early second-round pick, which the Cardinals and 49ers have. The Birds traded McNabb to Washington for the 37th overall pick and a fourth-rounder in this year's draft.
McNabb was probably a harder sell than Kolb is now. He was 33, was set to earn $12 million, and missed 17 games in the previous five seasons because of injuries. The younger Kolb is still a bit of a mystery, and that can either lure teams to him or scare them away.
All this conjecture may be moot. If the lockout continues past the draft, the Eagles are less likely to trade Kolb for 2012 draft picks. They could have a small window to make a player-for-player deal, but there are plenty of reasons to bring Kolb back.
Both Kolb and starter Michael Vick are signed only through next season. Vick stands to make about $16 million with the franchise tag. Kolb's salary is $1.4 million, a pittance for a backup. Solid backups also are hard to come by, especially when the starter's running style displays little regard for his body.
If the Eagles bring Kolb back, they stand the risk of losing him after next season and getting nothing in return if they don't put the franchise tag on him.
Ultimately, the labor climate makes it difficult to predict if he will be back or not. Last offseason, a Philadelphia talk-radio personality wagered with Roseman that Vick would not be back for the 2010 season. Roseman won that bet.
"It wasn't a monetary wager," he said.
Presented with the same wager, but this time one regarding Kolb, Roseman passed.