PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–The time was coming. It had arrived ever since the Eagles took Kevin Kolb with the 37th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Donovan McNabb’s days were supposed to be numbered, making way sometime soon for the “Kevin Kolb Era” to begin.
When McNabb was traded to Washington, Kolb’s time was supposed to arrive last season. It never did exactly get here, and now the Eagles have shuttled Kolb off to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft.
To make the deal happen, the Cardinals reportedly signed Kolb to a five-year contract worth roughly $63-million, with about $22-million guaranteed.
“I’d like to, number one, compliment [President] Joe [Banner] and [General Manager] Howie [Roseman] for doing a great job in executing that along with the Arizona Cardinal front office,” Eagles’ coach Andy Reid said. “[Arizona Cardinals Head Coach] Ken Wisenhunt, everybody did a top-notch job with communication in a very short period of time. Dominique should be up here some time tomorrow but he’s got to get equipment, physical, and the whole works. We’ll try to get him out here tomorrow afternoon but the better chance is probably the following day. Everybody is excited and fired up for this. Again, he’ll go to the right cornerback position and work in at that spot.”
Reid felt almost obligated to move Kolb. He had played the good soldier behind McNabb, and then last year behind resurrected Michael Vick after Reid originally handed Kolb the keys to the offense. In a sense, shipping Kolb to Arizona was his reward.
“I can’t tell you I won’t miss him as a person and as a player, but I think he’s very well deserving of this opportunity,” Reid said. “He’s got a great head coach who has a great offensive mind and he’s got a couple pretty good wide receivers there. One in particular who is one of the best in the business. He’s in a good position there with good players around him and I know he’ll do a great job. I’m pulling for him because he is so deserving and he’s that good to where he can do this. The thing I can tell you is that I think he deserves this opportunity. I’m very happy for him.”
How the Eagles parlayed this deal was masterful. Kolb had built a solid reputation in the league, though on paper, he had not really accomplished anything. The times he did come in for McNabb and Vick, he showed flashes of brilliance, but nothing ever sustained. What seems to have sold the Cardinals, as well as other teams that inquired about Kolb, were the consecutive 300-yard passing games in his first two starts in 2009. That’s what landed Kolb this opportunity. Two games. The Eagles got something out of it–an All-Pro level cornerback.
“I think [Kolb’s] hard work is rewarded for him having the position that he’s in, and rewarding this football team by him leaving, we’re able to get first-round compensation and a second round pick,” Reid said. “Obviously, Dominique is a first-round talent at corner, and you get the second round pick. That tells you that other people believed he was a good football player. That’s a tribute to Kevin on how hard he’s worked, when he’s had opportunities, and what a good job he’s done when he’s been given the opportunity. I put more of it towards him. Then, with [former quarterbacks coach] James Urban and [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] teaching him. His work ethic is phenomenal.”
The deal with the Cardinals had been rumored for months, but Kolb wanting out of Philadelphia surfaced soon after the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers last season. Kolb began the 2010 season as the Eagles’ starter but left the opener against Green Bay with a concussion, turning the game over to Vick.
Vick grabbed the No. 1 spot from Kolb, who did go 2-3 as a starter replacing Vick for a short time while he recovered from a rib injury. Over his career, Kolb has started seven times for the Eagles and is 3-4 in those games.
Kolb spent his first three seasons as a backup to McNabb, who he stepped in for when McNabb was injured in the 2009 season opener at Carolina, opening the door for Kolb to become the first NFL quarterback to throw for 300 yards in his first two starts.
The Eagles leveraged Kolb’s emergence in 2010 to trade McNabb to the Redskins for a pair of draft picks, one of which was second-round choice Nate Allen.
Kolb will get his chance in Arizona, where Cardinals’ star receiver Larry Fitzgerald had been campaigning openly to Arizona management to acquire Kolb.
Acquiring Rodgers-Cromartie fulfills the Eagles’ need for a strong corner to compliment game-changing ball hawk Asante Samuel. Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Rodgers-Cromartie was believed to have a down year last season, after making the Pro Bowl in 2009. He is still considered one of the better cover corners in the league. Like Samuel.
“There’s some similarities,” Reid admitted. “The thing is he hasn’t been doing it quite as long as Asante. It sure will be nice to have both of them in the lineup and playing. We’ve got a nice little group of corners but this will be his first time playing on the right side in the NFL. He’s been at left corner, so I think he’ll be fine there. I’m not saying that he couldn’t do that, but he’s always been the hot side corner there.”
A first-round draft pick (16th overall) by Arizona in 2008, the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Rodgers-Cromartie has recorded 16 career interceptions (13 regular season, three playoffs) in 54 career games (49 starts). That places him fourth among all NFL cornerbacks during that span behind new teammate Asante Samuel (22) and the Packers’ Tramon Williams (18) and Charles Woodson (18). In addition, Rodgers-Cromartie’s four interception return touchdowns since 2008 is tied for second among all NFL cornerbacks behind Woodson (6).
Rodgers-Cromartie, 25, started in all 16 games in 2010, posting 44 tackles, three interceptions and a career-high two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He garnered Pro Bowl honors following the 2009 season after posting 51 tackles, a career-high six interceptions, three forced fumbles and 33 passes defensed. In 2008, he tied for the NFL lead among rookies with four interceptions. That included a 99-yard return for a touchdown vs. St. Louis (12/7/08), which tied a Cardinals record for the longest in franchise history. A versatile player, he has also blocked two kicks in his career, both of which led directly to points for the Cardinals.
Reported by Joseph Santoliquito