One of the few things I took from high school economics class was this–the value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to exchange for it.
Kolb, who lost his starting job to the revitalized Michael Vick, started six games last season. His stats reflected his spastic performances, as he posted a pedestrian quarterback rating of 76.1 while compiling a 2-4 record.
When compared to trades in recent years where draft picks were exchanged for quarterbacks, this deal would be viewed as lopsided. Maybe lopsided is not even the right word–robbery is more appropriate. Robbery so devastating, that even the Philadelphia sports fanbase may feel remorseful, provided they're capable of feeling human emotion.
Consider the Matt Cassel trade two offseasons ago. Cassel, in an emergency role for the New England Patriots, posted a solid 89.4 rating, and finished the season 11-5. With Tom Brady ready to return from injury, Cassel was just as expendable as Kolb, and the Patriots could only muster a second-round pick for him after sweetening the pot with Mike Vrabel.
Donovan McNabb, a proven leader with fuel in the tank, received a second and what will be a fourth round pick from Washington. He endured the worst campaign of his career in 2010, but it must be considered that at the time of the trade, his resume and talent overshadowed Kolb's by miles. Despite this, he may have garnered less on the market than a signal-caller who has shown very little indication of flourishing on the same level.
So how in the world does a passer with a QB rating that plants him in the bottom 10 percent of the league's starting quarterbacks have first-round value?
Simply put–he's better than most of what's available.
The rest of the signal callers on the market come with quite a few question marks of their own. Was McNabb's awful season in Washington the result of his declining ability, or lack of weapons? Is Carson Palmer ever going to look like he did before he shredded his knee? Is Matt Flynn someone you'd want to brand your franchise with after starting just one career game?
Even more uncertainty lies in this year's draft class. Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, who have many scouts raising red flags in their direction, will most likely be snatched-up in the top 10. Teams could be hesitant to spend first-round money on the Jekyll-and-Hyde Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett, and also may not have the patience to develop later-round prospects such as Andy Dalton or Ricky Stanzi. Kolb could be a sensible and affordable option under-center for a team that needs an effective stop-gap.
Let's look at draft classes of recent years. Prospects like Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, and Colt McCoy were available for teams in need of a QB to pursue. General managers across the league knew that these drafts were deeper at quarterback, thus making reliable, proven free-agent quarterbacks a lesser value.
What does that say for the weakness of this year's rookie quarterbacks, when Kevin Kolb may be worth a first-round pick?
It's a growing trend that the barrier-to-entry to becoming a winning franchise in a pass-heavy league can be knocked down with a tool in the shape of a top-tier quarterback. But amidst this mindset, Kevin Kolb is more comparable to a rock-hammer so small, that Andy Dufresne would not even bother with it. Use with caution.