ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has approached star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for advice about available, or potentially available, quarterbacks the team could add in the near future.
According to league sources, Fitzgerald suggested attempting to trade for Philadelphia Eagles backup Kevin Kolb, or seeking the services of veteran quarterback Marc Bulger, who is a free agent for 2011.
As I had previously written, one of the keys to extending Fitzgerald's contract beyond the end of 2011 will be making the star feel involved in the process. Fitzgerald will hopefully be catching plenty of passes from whomever the Cardinals hire, so selecting someone he approves of is a must.
Of course, expecting Fitzgerald, or any other player, to select which of his teammates and friends start is a sure-fire way to divide the locker room and is considered a big no-no, and Ken Whisenhunt was quick to confirm that Fitzgerald is not the decision maker.
"Larry is obviously not making the decisions." Whisenhunt said in an interview with Kent Somers of azcentral.com.
"You’re very aware that we have an open door policy," Whisenhunt told Somers. "We solicit input from players on a lot of things, game plans, plays, travel to the East Coast. Things in training camp."
Fitzgerald is an experienced player, one of the team captains, and is well respected by both playing and coaching staff.
"Larry and I talked about a number of things. I've talked to other players as well."
According to reports Kolb, who has been suggested by several reporters as a potential candidate at the Cardinals, was Fitzgerald's top prospect, but not the only name mentioned in the informal conversation, which also touched on numerous other topics.
"It would not make sense [not] to at least talk to some of your players."
Whisenhunt was clear that, while Fitzgerald's opinion was respected, and input would be considered, that's as far as the talks went.
"There’s a lot of things that guys want that they don’t necessarily get. That’s why I have individual meetings with them to get their ideas."
That Fitzgerald suggested these names is not really a huge surprise, and he is unlikely to have suggested anything the team management have not already discussed in private.
The Philadelphia Eagles management have indicated that Kevin Kolb—who has made it clear that he wants to be a starter—would be traded for a package of early round picks. In reality, the Eagles will likely entertain lesser offers, but nothing can be discussed formally until a new CBA is in place.
The Cardinals have been linked to him in the media frequently, and will likely at the very least informally discuss what he would cost in a trade with the Eagles. The Cardinals have multiple other holes to plug, several of which should be done in the draft which may limit how much the Cardinals are willing to give up for him.
The Cardinals would likely aim to trade down and swap first-rounders with a team in the latter half of the draft, and pick up an extra second rounder before considering trading away their fifth overall pick for Kolb, however, with a number of strong candidates in the top ten, this may not be an impossible ask.
Since Kolb is a much better immediate prospect than any quarterback in the draft—Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, consensus top QB Blaine Gabbert, and Colin Kaepernick having all been predicted to be taken the Cardinals in mock drafts—the team could be tempted to give up their first round pick for Kolb if everything else was right.
Newton and Kaepernick are both viewed as two-to-three year projects with Gabbert currently viewed as being ready to lead a team in no less than one season.
The Cardinals have indicated that Marc Bulger, who has most recently been backup for the Baltimore Ravens, has been a consideration for several years. Although he has not played any significant part at an NFL level for several years, the Cardinals still feel as though he may have something to offer them.
It is unlikely that we will see firm answers until the CBA situation is resolved however. The Cardinals having any such conversations, even at an informal level, is a positive sign that talks between the Cardinals and Fitzgerald remain positive.
Luke is a Featured Columnist for the Arizona Cardinals on Bleacher Reporter. He also covers the Arizona Cardinals for Sports Haze Phoenix. Follow him on twitter @lukebunger and Sports Haze, www.sportshaze.com/phoenix