The minute the Cardinals paid Kolb his $7 million roster bonus, they took themselves out of the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes. Whether Manning had told him he wasn’t going to sign with them is irrelevant; most Cardinals fans will equate Kolb’s payday with the end of the Manning pursuit.
Sitting with the No. 13 draft pick, Arizona has lost out on the three offensive tackles it coveted – Matt Kalil out of USC, Iowa’s Reilly Reiff and Stanford’s Jonathan Martin. But the bottom line is that the Cardinals still need to make sure they protect Kolb so he can make plays and make fans forget the failed Manning courtship.
Even with Adam Snyder coming over from San Francisco and Daryn Colledge in the mix at guard, the Cardinals will take the best remaining offensive lineman on the board (not to mention, the best player still on the board, by far) and select the better Stanford lineman coming out of the draft – guard David DeCastro in the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
Colledge was an adequate run blocker for the Cardinals last year, but he was also part of a unit that surrendered 54 sacks. He recently restructured his contract to give Arizona more cap space this year, but that number goes up every year for the next three years.
DeCastro, meanwhile, is considered the top guard coming out of the NFL draft. He had an excellent combine, showing his athletic ability. Scouts call him a master technician and he is a significant upgrade at the position.
The Cardinals re-signed left tackle Levi Brown to a five-year, $30 million contract, signifying that the front office believes his play the last half of 2011 is more indicative of what to expect in 2012 than his miserable first half.
Whether playing alongside Snyder on the left side or DeCastro on the right, Brown will be a better player regardless. With Lyle Sendlein at center, the Cardinals suddenly have four solid offensive linemen, plus a capable backup in Colledge.
The lineup should significantly help the running game of Beanie Wells and fresh-off-injury Ryan Williams, but more importantly, it should give Kolb the time he needs to find Larry Fitzgerald for more than a few big gains.
The collaboration should help the Cardinals prove their offseason wasn’t as quiet as critics have claimed. Arizona fans still will have one eye to their immediate northeast to check in on a certain team in Denver and its new quarterback.
As long as the Cardinals and their quarterback can outperform the Broncos, the sentimental journey will go through Kolb, not Manning.