Ideas to finalize Eagles-Cardinals trade

Posted: July 20, 2011

AT THIS POINT, I'll be a little surprised if the Eagles don't trade Kevin Kolb to Arizona in a deal that involves Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Obviously, nothing can be done until the NFL resumes business, which could happen by the end of the week, probably not before. There is still time for some other team to jump in with a breathtaking offer. But that's unlikely. Everybody working in the league really hasn't been in a state of suspended animation for 6 months; the teams that want Kolb have known for a while that they want him, and they've known what they are willing to give. You can be pretty sure the Eagles know those things, too. More and more, I think Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie, essentially, is going to be the trade that gets done.

My understanding is that the Eagles have a high regard for Rodgers-Cromartie, the 16th player taken in the 2008 draft, and that the Cards have a high regard for Kolb, who has been NFC offensive player of the week twice in seven career starts. I also understand the Eagles are ready to do the deal if they can get something else thrown in, most likely a draft pick. That's the possible rub - reporters in Arizona tell me the Cards might be leery of tossing in anything else, given that Rodgers-Cromartie is a proven starter and Kolb is not.

Fair point. But again, Arizona, you didn't draft a quarterback this spring. Your team, in the Super Bowl just a few years ago, was 5-11 in 2010, and not having a real QB was a major reason. If you've decided to go after Kolb instead of drafting someone, you're convinced he's a starting-quality QB. (Yes, you could trade for Kyle Orton instead. Good luck with that.)

Hey, tie the extra draft pick to Kolb's success level. Fourth-rounder that becomes a second-rounder if Kolb makes the Pro Bowl this season or reaches certain statistical criteria. Fourth-rounder and some other conditional draft pick in 2013. Or maybe the Eagles give you their fourth and you give back a second. Point is, Kolb and Rodgers-Cromartie are the key elements. Figuring out a draft pick to throw in is, to borrow Jerry Jones' evocative description of the final details of the lockout settlement, "circumsizing mosquitoes."

If the Eagles make this trade, they can cross their biggest free-agency need off their list, and that's significant. Solving the corner question would give them plenty of money to get better on the defensive line, at safety, maybe even at running back or linebacker. (Some money could go to bringing back Stewart Bradley and/or Jerome Harrison.)

People who know him in Arizona see Rodgers-Cromartie as a significant talent who might be a bit immature, maybe even "childlike" in some respects. (The Shawn Andrews haters just went on red alert.) He's 6-2, 185, but isn't a big hitter. After two impressive seasons, Rodgers-Cromartie seemed to play listlessly last year, as did a number of Cardinals. The Eagles are unlikely to find a similar talent with as many projected years ahead of him on the free-agent market.

Whether the Eagles have the kind of defensive leadership that will help the 25-year-old Rodgers-Cromartie mature is an excellent question. Especially if Quintin Mikell is done here.

Throughout this process, Kolb has been very reluctant to look ahead. That's why I was really surprised that the quarterback the Eagles drafted in 2007 to eventually replace Donovan McNabb was willing to go on the Dan Patrick radio show yesterday, with WIP's Howard Eskin as co-host, and discuss his thoughts about Arizona. Kind of makes you wonder if Kolb knows something, though he said a couple times that he doesn't.

"I think most people can connect the dots now, I hope," Kolb said. "Arizona would be a great place. I've envisioned myself there, and some other places."

Kolb also said NFL teams are aware of his contract requirements once the deal is completed. (Neither Kolb nor agent Jeff Nalley returned calls from the Daily News yesterday.)

Here is the full context of the "connect the dots" quote:

"You try to put yourself mentally in those places and then you have to start pumping the brakes and say, 'Hold on, I'm still an Eagle. What happens if I go to training camp there [in Philly] or go to training camp somewhere else that I'm not planning on?' We all know how the NFL works. There are lot of surprises and unknowns there. I think most people can connect the dots now, I hope. Arizona would be a great place. I've envisioned myself there, and some other places. I think they all have a chance to be great. Of course, that's the kind of team you want to go to, if you're going to get traded."

Kolb, whose contract expires after this coming season, was asked if he envisioned any way he might remain an Eagle.

"Oh, man, I don't know. I don't want to look down that route," he said. "I've had a great time there, but it's time for me to move on and do my own thing. I'm the first one to tell you that I had my shot and it didn't work out. That's why I have to go prove myself somewhere else, if that possibility presents itself. I can't think of one [scenario that would involve staying] from the conversations I've had before it all happened. It sounds like [a trade is] the plan, and I hope everyone sticks to it."

One continuing theme of the interview was Kolb's high regard for Andy Reid. "He treats everybody with respect," Kolb said. "He understands that it's people's lives, not just numbers on a piece of paper . . . There is nobody that I respect more in the NFL or in the game of football than I do him."

In a nonlockout year, this deal almost certainly would have been done before the draft. Kolb has lost 3 months of learning a new offense and integrating with a new team. "It's going to be hard. I'm not naive enough to think that I'm not behind the eight ball," he said. "I have no idea where I'm going . . . Physically, I think I'm there, but mentally I have to catch up and make sure I'm there by Week 1."

Send email to bowenl@phillynews.com

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