In a move that seemed long overdue, the Arizona Cardinals placed quarterback Kevin Kolb on injured reserve this week after he has missed the past seven games with a severe rib injury. The team would have certainly liked to see him return this season with the struggles of John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, but it was not to be and now Kolb’s future in the desert has to be considered up in the air.
Kolb lost the starting job for Week 1 this year to Skelton, but entered that game when Skelton was injured and started the next five games before succumbing to his rib injury. He also missed seven games in 2011 with concussion and turf toe issues, so his durability is a definite concern; though a shoddy Cardinals’ offensive line has not helped.
Kolb did play fairly well this year prior to his injury, with six touchdown passes and two interceptions in the four games he started and finished and eight touchdowns with three interceptions overall, but it’s clear Arizona needs to upgrade their quarterback situation if they hope to get the most out of star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald over the next few years.
Arizona of course gave up a lot to get Kolb prior to the 2011 season, trading cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for him. They then signed him to a six-year, $63.5 million contract ($12 million guaranteed) to further shine a spotlight on the situation if it did not work out. Despite some interest in Peyton Manning prior to this season, the Cardinals picked up Kolb’s $7 million option bonus and gave him another chance.
Kolb is due to make $9 million in 2013, plus a $2 million bonus if he is on Arizona’s roster in March. That is obviously a lot of money to pay a quarterback of his caliber, and the Cardinals may choose to cut him and acknowledge that they made a mistake rather than drag things on for much longer.
There are plenty of teams across the league that may have some interest in Kolb if he is released, even if the mystery and perceived upside that was attached to him prior to Arizona acquiring him is gone. The quality of backup quarterbacks around the league as a whole is not particularly good, so any team looking for an upgrade in that area could be willing to take a look at Kolb with the knowledge they will not have to break the bank to sign him.
A few teams that come to mind as potential fits for Kolb are the Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers. The Vikings and Browns could add Kolb as potential competition for a young quarterback and a fallback option, or in the case of the Packers they could help him resurrect his career as Aaron Rodgers’ backup. In any case I feel it’s a virtual certainty Kolb will not be in a Cardinals’ uniform next season, and surely some other teams I have not mentioned will have interest if he is available.