Kolb remains with Eagles, for now

Eagles are 'going to keep our ears open' on QB Kevin Kolb.
Eagles are 'going to keep our ears open' on QB Kevin Kolb. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff photographer)
Posted: April 29, 2011

FOUR QUARTERBACKS were taken in the first round of the draft last night, which means there probably will be four fewer teams calling the Eagles about Kevin Kolb when the NFL gives the green light to player movement again.

Cross off the Carolina Panthers, who took Cam Newton with the first pick, and the Tennessee Titans, who took Jake Locker at No. 8. Scratch the Jacksonville Jaguars, who traded up and grabbed Blaine Gabbert at 10, and the Minnesota Vikings, who reached big-time and took projected second-rounder Christian Ponder at 12.

"It really doesn't bother me," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, who probably could have gotten a top-10 pick for Kolb last night if he had been allowed to trade him. Instead, they stayed put at 23 with their own first-round pick and selected 26-year-old Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins.

"That's the hand we were dealt. We went into the process thinking that was going to be the case. And that's the way it played out. We knew the people that were interested in Kevin. We'll see how things work out when everything is lifted. Who knows what's going to happen? We're going to keep our ears open."

In the wake of Judge Susan Nelson's refusal Wednesday to grant a stay of the preliminary injunction she issued earlier in the week that ended the league's lockout of the players, the NFL notified teams yesterday that they were reopening for business while it waits for the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on its stay request.

Team facilities were reopened to players this morning, which means they can work out there, schedule medical and rehabilitation activity and meet with coaches about things like film study and classroom work. Clubs also were given the green light to distribute playbooks and set up voluntary workout programs, including OTAs.

But much to Kolb's chagrin, player transactions, including trades, still are on hold. The league still hasn't determined when the free-agency signing period will begin or even what the rules of free agency will be. That determination could be made as soon as today, but likely will be put off until next week.

"We wanted to immediately get started with getting the facilities open. Once we have gone through all of the player transactions of what needs to be done under the circumstances, then we'll issue that to all 32 clubs," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters yesterday.

"We got the order [denying the stay] late [Wednesday] night. We've been working to put together all the operations. The most important thing you want to do in this circumstance is make sure it's done in an orderly way and consider the competitive issues. And that's what we're working on."

The league has appealed Nelson's injunction ruling to the Eighth Circuit. A ruling from the appellate court on its stay request could come as soon as next week. A ruling on its injunction appeal could be as much as 2 months away. If the Eighth Circuit grants the stay, the lockout would be back on until a ruling on the injunction appeal.

Kolb's Eagles future is a lot clearer than the league's legal battle with its players. It's pretty clear that he has played his last game for the team. He wants to be traded, and as soon as the Eagles are able, they almost certainly will oblige him.

Before the lockout, several teams had contacted the Eagles about Kolb, including the Arizona Cardinals, who had the fifth pick in the first round, and the San Francisco 49ers, who selected seventh.

If the Eagles had been able to trade Kolb last night, they would have known specifically what they were getting. Now, they'll likely have to settle for a package that will include a first-round pick in next year's draft.

The problem with that is they won't know where in the round that pick will be. It will be similar to 2008, when they traded their first-round pick that year, the 19th overall, to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a package that included the Panthers' pick the next year. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Panthers ended up making the playoffs the next year and the pick was No. 21, not the top 10 selection the Eagles had been hoping for.

It should be pointed out that both the Cardinals and 49ers did not take quarterbacks with their first-round picks last night. So, presumably, they still are in the market for one.

In fact, they took players at positions that mesh surprisingly with the Eagles' needs, leading some, including me, to surmise that maybe they've agreed to a wink-and-nod deal that will be culminated once trades are legal again.

The Cardinals took the draft's best cornerback, Patrick Peterson of LSU, with the fifth pick. How nice would he look at right cornerback opposite Asante Samuel. The Niners selected Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, who would do wonders for a pass rush that had just 39 sacks last season.

It's not likely the Eagles have a deal with the Cardinals, though. The word is Arizona has a handshake deal with veteran free agent Marc Bulger. And while Cardinals general manager Rod Graves isn't the smartest GM in the league, he's not dumb enough to part with a special cornerback like Peterson, even if it means starting Bulger at quarterback this season.

The Niners certainly have a need for a pass-rusher like Smith. They had even fewer sacks last season than the Eagles (36) and gave up 25 touchdown passes, and they don't really have a dominant pass-rusher at linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson combined for just 6 1/2 sacks last season.

But they need a veteran quarterback at least as much as a pass-rusher. Right now, new coach Jim Harbaugh is looking at going to war with Alex Smith, who finished 21st in the league in passing last season, and backups David Carr and Troy Smith.

It makes a lot of sense for them to trade Smith to the Eagles for Kolb. But a source close to Harbaugh said he doubts the Niners coach would be willing to give up the seventh selection in the draft for Kolb.

"Is Kolb worth the seventh pick in the draft?" the source said. "I don't think so. The Eagles tend to overvalue their own guys. Jim may have interest in Kolb. But for the seventh pick?"

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