The Arizona Cardinals went from a Super Bowl team to a subpar 5-11 squad in just two years, primarily because of the losses they suffered during the 2010 offseason, including the retirement of future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.
Since he left, the team has experimented with the likes of Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Max Hall, yet none of these mediocre signal callers proved to be viable long-term options. In fact, the Cardinals posted a dismal 60.5 passer rating last season, which ranks just ahead of the Carolina Panthers as the second-worst in the NFL.
In a league that's increasingly becoming more and more pass heavy, they must find their franchise quarterback quickly before matters get out of hand.
Even though the Cardinals didn't undergo a coaching change despite their struggles, Ken Whisenhunt is still under the hot seat. If he doesn't get this team winning games early on, he could be fired midway through the season. That being so, he'll likely be looking for a veteran who he can plug in from Day 1 and quickly get accustomed to running the offense.
Perhaps that's why they opted to take the best player available in Patrick Peterson with their fifth overall selection in the draft as opposed to taking one of the several gunslingers in the class, despite their pressing need.
The lockout has prevented the organization from addressing it thus far, but with the work stoppage likely to end this Thursday, it's time to speculate as to which direction they'll head at quarterback.
There are a few free agents out there including the Minnesota Vikings' Tarvaris Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens' Marc Bulger. Moreover, they could snatch someone from within their own division like the Seattle Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck or the San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith.
However, according to reports from ESPN Insider's Tim Kavanagh, Bulger isn't interested in signing with the Cards (original source Mike Jurecki of XTRA 910 in Phoenix; h/t Baltimore Sun). Meanwhile, the 49ers are likely to re-sign Smith and the Seahawks will probably bring back Hasselbeck unless they find a more suitable replacement.
As I said, they could look at Jackson, but after all, the Vikings weren't confident with him, which is why they drafted FSU QB Christian Ponder. So why should the Cards settle for leftovers? Not to mention that he posted a 46.2 passer rating in his only start over the past two seasons, which resulted in a 21-3 loss. So, this is probably not what the Cardinals are looking for.
That leaves them with few other available free agents, which means they may have to look into a trade. The one big name on the market right now is Kevin Kolb, who was unseated with the starting role with the Philadelphia Eagles by Michael Vick, and deservedly so, as he put up an MVP-caliber performance last season.
Kavanagh reported that the potential deal which would send Kolb in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie remains a strong possibility. Mike Jurekci of XTRA Sports 910 AM tweeted Monday night that "Kevin Kolb is the guy, Cardinals are prepared to offer DRC straight up."
Kolb is still young at 26, but has some starting experience under his belt and has shown promise that he can be a quality starter in the NFL.
Also, he expressed his interest in playing for the Cardinals on the Dan Patrick Show today (h/t arizonasports.com). “Arizona would be a great place. I’ve obviously envisioned myself there."
Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to take over a team that is just two years removed from the Super Bowl and could easily be a playoff team in the weak NFC West? Not to mention, he'd have the privilege of being able to throw to Larry Fitzgerald, who's one of the best receivers in the game.
There are clear pros and cons to this move. The Cardinals would lose a perennial Pro Bowl corner, and even though they desperately need a quarterback, they might be better off giving up a first-round pick instead.
The Eagles are looking for a top-flight corner opposite Asante Samuel, but this may not be the right fit considering their newly implemented Tampa 2 defensive scheme. They'd probably be better off with someone like Jonathon Joseph or Ike Taylor.
In the case that this deal doesn't work, Dave Burns on the Sports 620 KTAR's Sports Interactive show (h/t arizonasports.com) speculated that the Eagles could explore the possibility of acquiring one of the Cardinals' running backs.
It's still all up for grabs at the moment, and I could see a name like Donovan McNabb popping up at the last moment, but don't be surprised if this is one of the first deals done once the lockout is lifted.
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