Kevin Kolb's Cap Number Looms Large as March Deadline Approaches
The last two years in Arizona haven't been exactly picturesque for Kevin Kolb. Injuries, poor performance and scrutiny from fans and media members alike have made his brief stay in the desert unpleasant to say the least.
When the 28-year-old quarterback signed a six-year, $63.5 million contract back in 2011, expectations were high as many believed he was finally the answer to the Cards' quarterback problems. After Kurt Warner's retirement following the 2009 season, Arizona struggled to find his immediate successor in 2010.
Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall didn't lead anyone to believe that the future lied within their hands, which made the Kolb acquisition more exciting than ever. Yet in today's NFL, excitement wears off quite quickly when a player doesn't live up to lofty expectations.
In no way is that wrong considering he carries the 10th highest cap number at the quarterback position. His high cap number wouldn't be a problem if he was playing up to the level expected of him, but unfortunately for the Cardinals, he's not.
His 6-8 record as a starter and mediocre play over the last two years definitely warrants the Cardinals' top brass to take a look at his expanding contract. In 2011, his contract carried a cap number of $4 million. In 2012, it escalated to $10.5 million and now in 2013 it increases even more to $13.5 million.
His base salary for 2013 makes up $9 million of the $13.5 million, while a $2 million roster bonus and a $2 million signing bonus rounds out the rest. Undoubtedly, team president Michael Bidwill would love to cut that number in half, but that process may be easier said than done according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com:
There was always going to be an element of a game of chicken between the sides. The Cardinals need a quarterback, and Kolb knows that. He also knows there are other teams out there that need a quarterback.
One can't fault Kolb for recognizing the weak free-agent market and his market value, but to think he will have the opportunity to go elsewhere and compete for a starting job is preposterous. The best chance he has to start and turn his career around resides in Arizona where he gets a fresh start under a new coaching staff.
Despite the rumors of Bruce Arians bringing in Drew Stanton or drafting a quarterback with the seventh pick overall, Kolb still has the ability to win more games than Stanton or any rookie in this year's draft class. His skill set may not be perfect for Arians' offense, but that doesn't mean he won't play to his strengths.
The experienced coaching staff in Arizona has been around the league long enough to know that you can't force a square peg into a round hole. That doesn't mean Arians wouldn't eventually like a guy who allows him to dial up home run shots down the field, but for now, he's doing the best with what's been made available to him.
And as we all know, great quarterbacks don't just fall out of the sky.
It's also worth mentioning that Kolb likes Arizona (as noted by Urban) and would prefer to stay there given the correct circumstances. Yet that doesn't mean he likes the Cardinals enough to stay if the restructured contract low-balled him in any way.
As I mentioned above, if Kolb wants to be one of 32 starters in the league, he will take a discount to get that opportunity. However, it wouldn't catch me by surprise if he walked away and tested the free-agent market either, considering he would be one of the more attractive names.
Would a new city and change of scenery do him some good? Would lowered expectations also do him some good? The answers are clearly yes and yes, but honestly it all comes down to what Kolb wants out himself. His motivation level and goals will dictate what cards are in play for his future.
With the start of free agency less than a month away, Kolb's judgement day can't come soon enough.
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