Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Eagles off-season position review: QBs

The new NFL season begins at the end of this week. Restricted free agents must be tendered by Thursday, and unrestricted free agent signings can start on Friday. I'd like to review each position on the Eagles roster before then, but I'm not sure I'll actually follow through.

We'll start with the quarterback position. Three players in the last year of their contracts, McNabb, Kolb, and Vick.

First, dump Vick. That's the easy one. A conditional pick, starts out as a fifth with the potential to move up to a two. Carolina, St. Louis, and the Raiders are likely fits...although Arizona would be wise to consider it as well, since they have no backup to Matt Leinart.

Second, I'm ready to trade McNabb. I watched the playoffs, and the QB troika of Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees reminded me just how far #5 is from an elite QB. He has his moments, and can pile up stats with the best of them, but the inaccuracy and indecision always catch up to him in the playoffs.

But the question is: who can we trade him to, and for what? I would gladly take two draft picks: a second-rounder to start along with a conditional pick...let's say it starts as a fourth and can move up to a second if he leads his new team to the playoffs. At that price, I think the Eagles could find several dance partners - Buffalo, Cleveland, San Francisco. Carolina at least...possibly St. Louis, Denver, and Minnesota (if Brett retires) as well. But two things to keep in mind: the Eagles are unlikely to trade him to a contending NFC team, which rules out Carolina, Minnesota, and San Fran. Meanwhile, Donovan is unlikely to want to play for a crappy team, so he wouldn't sign a contract extension with Buffalo, Cleveland, or St. Louis...and without a contract extension, no team will give up two draft picks. So while I want to see him traded, and probably several people in the Eagles' front office do too, it's not going to be simple to get a deal done.

So where does that leave Kolb? I'd dearly love to sign him to a long-term deal, but as long as McNabb is on the roster, it will have to be an incentive-laden contract. You can get away with as much as $3 million base salary for a back-up QB, and then pile on incentives for playing time, passing TDs, etc. Kolb may not go for that, however, which would put the Eagles in a really tough spot. They might be forced to trade Kolb, if they can't find a partner for McNabb, because he'd be a lot less picky about who he signed an extension with. Kolb would be happy to be a starter on a crappy team at this point in his career.

If we can find a partner, McNabb should be traded for a couple picks and Kolb signed to a long-term deal. If not, see if Kolb will accept an incentive-heavy deal and let him back up #5 for a couple more seasons. The last resort would be trading Kolb and signing McNabb. Under no circumstances should the Eagles enter the season with both McNabb and Kolb playing the last year of their contract - that would be disastrous.

In any case, we'll likely need to sign a veteran back-up for 2010, and draft a mid-round QB to develop.


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