With lockout over, Eagles first move will be dealing Kolb

Posted: July 26, 2011

Now that the NFL lockout is finally - finally - over, the Eagles and their fans can turn their attention to football and the initial moves the team will make this week: trading Kevin Kolb and improving its defense.

Dealing Kolb will be the Eagles' first order of business, and all signs point to the backup quarterback being sent to the Arizona Cardinals after trades are permitted Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The trade, first laid out by the teams before the draft when the lockout was briefly lifted, has Kolb heading to the Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. There are still details to work out, including the Eagles getting a 2012 draft pick in return. And other quarterback-needy teams, such as the Seattle Seahawks, could enter the discussion.

But a Kolb-for-Rodgers-Cromartie swap was the likely deal, NFL sources said Monday.

Both players have spoken publicly about the trade. In a radio interview last week, Kolb said that he had envisioned himself as a Cardinal and that he welcomed the opportunity to throw to Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

In fact, Kolb did toss passes to Fitzgerald earlier in the month during a workout at Arizona State. The Eagles, of course, have made it no secret that they're unloading Kolb, whom they stand to lose to free agency after the season.

Rodgers-Cromartie, though, was a little more diplomatic.

"I'm just playing it by ear," the cornerback said Monday on WIP-AM (610). "Whatever happens, happens."

The 25-year-old former No. 1 draft pick of the Cardinals downplayed his desire to leave Arizona, although he did say he would relish the chance to line up opposite Eagles Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel.

The Eagles failed to find a suitable complement to Samuel last season. Rodgers-Cromartie, who has 13 interceptions in three seasons, has been likened to Samuel. Both are considered excellent cover men but below-average tacklers.

"I know how to hit," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "I know when it comes down to it, if I have to make the tackle, he's going to come down."

If the deal was to fall through and the Eagles were unable to receive a cornerback in return for Kolb, they would have several options on the market. But the Eagles cannot push forward with their free-agency plans until the Kolb situation is addressed.

The Eagles can begin negotiating with free agents - their own and other teams' - also at 10 a.m. Tuesday. They cannot sign those players until Friday at 6 p.m., although handshake deals will likely occur during the 31/2-day window.

The Eagles have been linked to countless free agents, and the NFL rumor mill is likely to run rampant during what will be an unprecedented period of player movement.

Already the team has been rumored to be a possible suitor for the following free agents: cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomougha, Johnathan Joseph and Ike Taylor; defensive ends Ray Edwards and Jason Babin; wide receiver Plaxico Burress, running back Reggie Bush; and, well, quarterback Brett Favre, to name a few.

Even though the Eagles have said that they have an aggressive free-agency plan, it is important to note that there will be a $120 million salary cap and the team will have about $16 million to $18 million of cap space available.

Regarding the free agents they sign who were not with the team before, they can't report to training camp until Aug. 4, according to the NFL calendar. That will put the new additions about a week behind the rest of the team.

Eagles players will start reporting to Lehigh University in Bethlehem on Wednesday. It's fair to say that a number of familiar faces will not be in attendance. The Eagles aren't expected to sign most of their 16 unrestricted free agents.

Long-timers such as kicker David Akers and safety Quintin Mikell are bound for other teams. The Eagles rescinded their transition tender for Akers. They could not use both the franchise (slotted to quarterback Michael Vick) and transition tags in the new collective bargaining agreement, although Akers was never part of their future plans after they drafted kicker Alex Henery.

The agents for Akers and Mikell - Jerrold Colton and Jason Chuyat - said they would start entertaining offers for their clients as soon as possible.

The Eagles likely have decisions to make on three unrestricted free agents: linebacker Stewart Bradley, running back Jerome Harrison and punter Sav Rocca. It was expected that teams would have a 72-hour window in which to sign their own free agents, but that isn't the case.

Stewart's agent, Eric Metz, said the linebacker wants to remain an Eagle.

Some other veterans may want the same thing, but the Eagles may be forced to cut high salaries because of the cap. Some of the casualties could rejoin the team at reduced salaries.


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

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