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Would Cards trade corner to get Kolb?
Are the Packers the favorite to win it all again?
Which coaches are on the hot seat for the 2011 season?
We’re tracking those issues and more in the seventh installment of the post-NFL draft email bag. (You can send your questions on Twitter @caplannfl or to email@example.com).
Kolb for Rodgers-Cromartie?
Question: Do you agree that it makes sense for the Cardinals to deal for Kevin Kolb even if the cost is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? I've never heard anyone call the NFL a 'cornerbacks league' and I think the fact that the Cardinals have chased a quarterback for the better part of their time in the desert proves they should make the deal (Warner and Plummer were the only decent QBs they've had and those are the only times they've been to the playoffs). Rodgers-Cromartie is a nice piece, but the Cardinals need to take a chance.– Greg E.
Answer: Greg, I’ve been asked about a possible trade including both players for many weeks by readers and by my Twitter followers (@caplannfl), so I’ll address the viability of such a deal.
Because of the likelihood that Kolb will be able to walk away after this season without the Eagles being able realistically retain him, the expectation is that they’ll be aggressive trying to move him once the lockout is over and transitions are allowed to be completed.
And the Cardinals make a lot of sense since they didn’t address their weakness at quarterback during this year’s NFL draft. But they still could do so once free agency begins.
Their realistic choices to fill the void are trading for Kolb or veteran Kyle Orton or signing Marc Bulger. But after listening to head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s recent interview on Sirius/XM NFL Radio, it sure seems to me that he wants add a younger veteran such as Kolb. And I heard from a source during this year’s NFL Scouting Combine that the Cardinals would eventually emerge as one of the top teams to show interest in the former second-round pick out of the 2007 NFL draft.
And when you match up the needs of both teams, it makes some sense because the Eagles need to add a cornerback to start opposite veteran Asante Samuel.
But I think there are some issues complicating a potential trade of both players, however.
The Cardinals selected Patrick Peterson with their first-round pick to add some badly-needed help at the cornerback position opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. By trading away DRC, they would be at square one again. Greg Toler, 2009 fourth-round pick, did start 13 games last season and participated in 885 out of 1143 defensive plays (77.4 percent), but personnel sources I talked to recently about Toler feel he would be better off in a nickel role.
Just for informational purposes, Rodgers-Cromartie is signed through 2013, but the final season will void because he met minimum playing time requirements already. So his deal will now be up after the 2012 season.
It would surprise me if the Cardinals were willing to trade DRC. Instead, if they do acquire Kolb from the Eagles, my sense is they’ll wind up giving up a draft pick for next year or a future pick and another player. Matching up the player with the Eagles’ needs is a big issue. The Cardinals simply aren’t deep at many positions, but a player who could interest the Eagles based on need is linebacker Daryl Washington. He would be capable of playing in the middle or on the weak-side in the Eagles’ 4-3 defensive scheme.
I agree with your assessment that the Cardinals have been trying to fill their void at quarterback for many years, but Warner was much more than decent. He put the 2008 team on his back and carried them to the Super Bowl. It's not a secret that Whisenhunt simply wants to solve the ongoing issue at quarterback. I don’t think he’s willing to wait one or two more seasons when John Skelton could be ready to be a full-time starter.
If the Cardinals do wind up getting Kolb, look for them to sign him to an extension soon after the deal is completed. He’s set to make just $1.392 million in base salary this season, the final year of his one-year extension, which is fully guaranteed. The Eagles would take on a salary cap hit of just under $4 million based on the rules of the previous CBA if they trade Kolb ($5.35 million in signing bonus acceleration minus his base salary).
Are the Green Bay Packers the favorite to win it all again?
Question: Despite posting just a 10-6 regular season, the Packers won the Super Bowl last season. We’re they that good? Do you see them as the favorite again? – Cliff R.
Answer: Cliff, records don’t tell the whole story for a team. The Packers didn’t even win their division.
But when you examine how they played as last season progressed, you could see why they were one of the NFL’s best teams. They suffered an inordinate amount of injuries, but were able to overcome them because of good coaching and solid depth at key positions. Head coach Mike McCarthy and executive vice president, general manager and director of football operations Ted Thompson deserve a lot of credit for holding things together.
Thompson’s belief that you build a team through the draft and not in free agency speaks to the patient approach that he has taken over the years. Most teams aren’t willing to be that patient, however. In fact, fans were calling for Thompson to be fired just a few years ago. I wrote about Thompson and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ methodical approach earlier this year. I wonder if other teams will be willing to be more patient like those two teams have been for many years.
And McCarthy’s hiring in 2006 came to a surprise to many because he didn’t put together a strong offense with the San Francisco 49ers as offensive coordinator in 2005. However, he had to deal with coaching a rookie quarterback (Alex Smith) that season and McCarthy didn’t have a lot of talent to work with at many of the key positions on offense.
McCarthy’s ability to teach and motivate his players along with his even keel approach has been a real key in the Packers’ improvement the past few seasons. And he also does a nice job of understanding when to push his players and when to pull back.
Because of Thompson’s outstanding job of personnel evaluation, the Packers are really set up for many years to come with talent at key positions on both sides of the ball.
So with many of the key injured players from last season expected to be 100 percent by the start of training camp, the Packers should be playing deep into January this season.
Coaches on the hot seat?
Question: Which coaches do you think could be the first to go this season if they don’t do well? –Seth L.
Answer: Seth, I think that right off the bat, two come to mind. Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak have to be at the top of the list.
Since Del Rio became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, the team has made just two playoff appearances (2005, 2007). It seemed that the Jaguars were on the right path in 2007 after they had an impressive road playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And building off that positive momentum, the team extended Del Rio’s contract through the 2012 season.
But since the 2007 season, the Jaguars haven’t posted a winning record in any of the following three seasons, leading many team observers to believe that Del Rio wouldn’t be back to coach the team for the 2011 season. And keep in mind general manager Gene Smith inherited Del Rio, so the two men aren’t tied to each other unlike many of the other head coach-general manager situations around the NFL.
While chairman and CEO Wayne Weaver decided to bring him back for his ninth season with the team, I can’t see any way that Del Rio comes back for season 10 if they don’t make the playoffs. Apathy has set in with some fans and since they don’t draw well, a change could very well be coming if the team doesn’t show significant improvement this season. However, in Del Rio’s defense, there could be pressure to play rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who was the team’s first round pick, early on.
As for Kubiak, he inherited a bad situation – much like Del Rio did when he took over in Jacksonville. But unlike Del Rio, Kubiak has not taken his team to the playoffs since he became the head coach in 2006.
The Texans have not made the playoffs since their inception in 2002. Expectations were high last season, since the team finished with its first winning record in 2009. But despite posting very solid offensive numbers and having the NFL’s leading rusher in Arian Foster, the Texans couldn’t overcome their bad defense last season. Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith failed to adequately address the perennially bad secondary, and because of that, the team came up woefully short of expectations with a 6-10 record.
They did a smart thing this time around. Not only did they spend their first five selections on defense in this year’s NFL draft, but Kubiak hired Wade Phillips to be his new defensive coordinator. The ongoing lockout figures to hurt Phillips ability to install his 3-4 scheme because of the lack of practice time in the offseason, but he should have a positive impact on the defense. It’s just a matter of how long it takes.
But if Phillips doesn’t have a major effect on the defense this season, Kubiak and Smith could be looking for jobs next year.