With the season coming to a close for the Philadelphia Eagles at the hands of the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, it should come as no surprise that anointed Eagles starter-turned-backup Kevin Kolb is seeking a trade from the only professional franchise he has ever known.
With Michael Vick re-emerging as a Pro Bowl-level quarterback for a majority of the year (and due for a big raise in form or another), Kolb, considered at the start of the season to the be the post-Donovan McNabb quarterback of the future, is once again stuck in the backup role for Philadelphia.
Albeit in a different fashion, Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans (or as we should now say, "formely of the Tennessee Titans," lost the power struggle with 17-year coach Jeff Fisher and will shortly find himself looking for a new team. Young wore out his welcome in Tennessee with inconsistent play and immature antics.
With a fair amount quality quarterbacks available in the upcoming draft (Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker to name a few) as well as only a handful or teams potentially in the market for an early-round QB, it seems likely that Vince Young will not be entrusted by a new team to start, meaning he will have to settle on being a backup for a year or two to improve his defensive reads and game preparation before another team takes a shot on him to lead their franchise.
This is where both of these quarterbacks' former teams (Philadelphia and Tennessee) become a perfect match for providing changes of scenery for both signal-callers. It seems reasonable to suggest a trade of Vince Young and a second-round pick for Kevin Kolb would be fair and agreeable to both sides (though I can see it being settled for something like a third and a fifth instead of the second).
The precedent for this trade is the Matt Schaub trade of 2007. Atlanta sent Schaub (coincidentally the backup to a certain quarterback named Michael Vick) to Houston (in desperate need of a quarterback after David Carr flopped) in exchange for swapping picks in the first round (Atlanta moved up from the 10th spot to the eighth spot) and second-round picks in both 2007 and 2008.
Schaub, who had only started two NFL games at the time (losing both), had compiled career stats of 1,033 yards on only 84 for 161 passing (52.2 percent) and a touchdown-interception ratio of 6:6. Considering that, shouldn't Kolb—whose statistics thus far dwarf those of Schaub at the time of the trade—be worth at least one second-round pick and whatever can be salvaged of Vince Young? After all, Schaub was worth TWO second-round picks and a two-pick swap in the first round.
As a sidenote, the Schaub trade was an absolute heist for the Falcons. From that trade (and resulting spin-off trades* from the picks acquired) Atlanta ultimately acquired two solid starters on the offensive line in tackle Sam Baker and guard Justin Blalock, an effective starting defensive end in Kroy Biermann (10 career sacks), his backup and former starter Jamaal Anderson (the result of moving from pick 10 to pick eight in the first round swap), and a decent fourth wide receiver in Harry Douglas. Houston should be happy with the trade as well, as Schaub has proved to be an above-average quarterback in the NFL, making one Pro Bowl and leading the league in passing in 2009.
*Atlanta traded the 34th pick, 48th pick (from Houston) and 103rd pick to Washington for the 21st pick (Sam Baker), 84th pick (Harry Douglas) and 154th pick (Kroy Biermann). So it wasn't just Schaub the Falcons gave up to acquire all these significant contributors, but rather Schaub, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick. A great haul, nevertheless.
But back to the Kevin Kolb for Vince Young and a second-round pick trade proposal. Many believe Jeff Fisher was on the hot seat after a horrendous second half of the season. While owner Bud Adams has decided to stick with Fisher for the final year of his contract (at a hefty $6.5 million), it stands to reason that Fisher has little margin of error in his quest to not only restore the Titans to a playoff contender, but compete for the Super Bowl that Adams so desperately desires.
Being in charge of personnel decisions, does it make any sense for Coach Fisher to entrust his future with Tennessee upon an unproven rookie quarterback? If Andrew Luck were coming out and Tennessee owned the first overall pick, that would be one thing, but with things being the way they are, it makes more sense both from the head coach's standpoint (Fisher in final year of contract and on tight lease), a competitive standpoint (rookie quarterbacks seldom lead long playoff runs, although there are some exceptions such as Ben Roethlisberger), as well as from a financial standpoint (first-round quarterbacks command significantly higher contracts than any other position).
So what are the options from within the league? Vick is a free agent in Philadelphia he is likely to be re-signed (we'll get to that in a minute), as is Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Is Fisher going to sign someone like Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck (rapidly aging former Pro Bowlers with significant injury history)? Extremely unlikely.
When the "best" of the rest includes Matt Leinart, Matt Moore and Brady Quinn, to name a few, Kevin Kolb is looking like a better and better option. Kolb would give Fisher and Tennessee a better chance to win right away than any rookie quarterback or available veteran retread. Not to mention he has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove himself now more than ever after sitting behind both McNabb and Vick for years waiting for his opportunity (which will never come in Philadelphia).
Kolb also only has one year left on his current contract, so if it becomes apparent that he is NOT the quarterback of the future (in which case case Tennessee has had a subpar year and Fisher is gone as head coach in 2012 anyway), the Titans have an easy exit strategy and can begin a complete rebuilding process of both a new coach and new rookie quarterback in 2012.
Why wouldn't Fisher relinquish a second-round pick and Young (who they are getting rid of anyway) for a chance to restore the Titans to competitiveness and extend his tenure as Tennessee's head coach?
On the Philadelphia side, they will either sign Michael Vick to a long-term deal (which in reality will probably be a three- or four-year deal) or place the franchise tag on the mercurial quarterback.
Based on the sources available, Vick still owes creditors anywhere from $10 million to $25 million after filing for bankruptcy and the other results of his crime. The franchise tag for a quarterback for the 2011 season will be somewhere in the $20 million range after Peyton Manning re-ups with the Colts. The Eagles could help Vick once again by aiding him to get out from under all of that debt while also seeing whether his often-hit body can withstand another 16- (or possibly 18-) game NFL schedule before bestowing a long-term deal to the electrifying playmaker. It is undeniable that Vick has an elevated risk of serious injury due to his style of play, despite his improved passing capabilities.
The Eagles coaching staff is known as one of the best in the game in developing and improving quarterbacks. Their track record includes Donovan McNabb, Vick, Kolb (depending on how he turns out), and to a much lesser extent AJ Feeley. The rapid improvement Vick has shown under the Philadelphia coaches' guidance is undoubtedly the most apparent.
Would Vince Young not benefit and possibly improve under similar tutelage?
Young's style of play as a run-first QB is similar to the Falcons version of Vick. Vick had a similar immature and undisciplined approach to his early career as an NFL quarterback that Young currently exhibits. He would be a natural mentor to Young and could help him rediscover his considerable potential.
Young could only benefit from an arrangement that places him around a reformed and more mature Vick that discovered greater work ethic and a career renaissance with the Eagles. Vince Young is very similar to a young Michael Vick (without the cannon arm or dog fighting felony) and would also provide the Eagles with a passable backup were Vick to be injured (as is more likely than unlikely).
With a fair amount of both attitude and passing improvement, Young could even conceivably take over for Vick should be become catastrophically injured or unable to come to terms on a long-term deal (assuming he plays under the franchise tag for 2011).
The Eagles would also get a high-level draft pick to fill one of their many holes in the offensive line, secondary or linebacker corps that crippled them down the stretch in 2010.
All in all, a quarterback swap of Kevin Kolb for Vince Young and a second-round pick is a win-win-win-win situation. Kolb gets to be an NFL starter. Young gets a chance to revive his once-promising career with a similar player in Michael Vick. Coach Jeff Fisher gets the chance to remain competitive and thus keep his job beyond next season.
And Philadelphia gets a playable insurance policy should Vick get injured or go unsigned.
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