Eagles need to find out if Kolb is the answer

Editor’s note: The Eagles announced later Tuesday that Michael Vick(notes) will start in Week 3 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kolb had a rocky season debut.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

If you’re Joel Segal, the agent for quarterback Michael Vick(notes), at least a small part of you is perfectly happy to see Kevin Kolb(notes) go back to being the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback – even if Segal ultimately wants his client to stay with the franchise for the remainder of Vick’s career.

While Vick’s outing during the 35-32 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday might have been his most complete performance ever as a passer, the Eagles are making a sound, logical decision to go back to Kolb.

Philadelphia needs to know what they have in Kolb, whom they gave a one-year, $12.25 million contract extension through 2011 after trading Donovan McNabb(notes) in the offseason. At the time, anyone with any connection to the Eagles spoke highly of Kolb, saying he had greatness written all over him.

Fair enough – though that doesn’t mean those people are right. Frankly, Kolb’s first 140 passes as a pro (resulting in a 60 percent completion rate, 67.8 quarterback rating, four touchdowns and seven interceptions) don’t say much one way or another. The 10 passes he threw in the opener before going out with a concussion were underwhelming.

Still, the Eagles have invested a lot in Kolb, and to switch gears to Vick after one great game against a bad Detroit defense would reek of indecision and a lack of confidence. The Eagles need to stand by Kolb, at least for a good half-season.

If things don’t start to improve by then, maybe it will be time to reconsider keeping Vick. Perhaps then, it might be worth throwing a franchise tag on Vick (to the tune of a whopping $16.4 million, give or take depending on where the numbers go this season). But the Eagles can only make the decision to go back to Vick after they have come to a conclusion about Kolb. At 26, Kolb is about to hit his prime athletically. He could be the team’s starter for the next eight years or so if he’s everything the Eagles think.

From that perspective, the decision to go back to Kolb is really kind of a no-brainer. It’s the best way to run a team. Even Vick (or at least his agent) would likely agree on that point.

By contrast, with one terrific start on Sunday and a nice effort in a backup role in the opener, Vick has set himself up as the premier free agent of the 2011 offseason (or whenever the league gets to the task of signing free agents).

Don’t believe me? Are you one of those who scoffs at the notion that a couple of games and 58 throws can determine whether some team is willing to pay $8 million, $10 million or even $12 million a year for a 30-year-old quarterback who has more warning labels than a carton of cigarettes?

Well, here’s a refresher: Scott Mitchell, A.J. Feeley(notes) and Charlie Whitehurst(notes) have all cashed in under those circumstances, and that’s just a sampling. At some point in time (Whitehurst this year), each of those guys got what was considered an exceptional contract given the amount of time each had played. That’s to say nothing of the first-round draft picks who are paid handsomely each year despite never throwing a pass. And those guys have about 10 percent of the résumé and maybe 10 percent of the physical talent of Vick.


In other words, Vick has already done enough to get himself another starting job somewhere else, barring a really bad turn. Whether that’s in Minnesota, Seattle, Oakland or some yet-to-be-defined destination, Vick is going to get a chance – a big chance and a big contract.

Even for people who were (or still are) disgusted by Vick, this has the makings of a great story about redemption. Despite all that, Philadelphia should stick by its guns and start Kolb.


CBA talks could foil Chargers

As the clock ticks toward the Wednesday deadline for San Diego to trade wide receiver Vincent Jackson(notes), the Chargers would be wise to consider one thing as they weigh their options:

The NFL Players Association may very well fight the concept of compensatory draft picks in the upcoming labor negotiations – or at least look to bar teams from getting picks as high as the end of the third round. If the union succeeds, the Chargers stand to get nothing for Jackson.

“It’s not something that has come up in talks so far, but we are aware of the situation,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said over the weekend.

Under the current rules, there is actually an incentive for the Chargers (and other teams in this situation) to keep Jackson even if he never shows up this season and never plays another down for them. The incentive is that if Jackson eventually signs a significant contract (this partly depends on the rules if a new CBA is struck) and plays well with another team, the Chargers get a compensatory draft pick the following year. In Jackson’s case, that pick would likely come at the end of the third round in 2012.

In other words, the Chargers can afford to stonewall Jackson right now, hoping that he shows up for the final six games of the season (to play a sixth accrued season and assure that he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason). That’s because they stand to get at least something in return for Jackson at some point.

The Chargers have done that before. In 2007, they turned down several trade offers for running back Michael Turner(notes). Their thinking was that they needed to have a good backup for then-starter LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) and that they would eventually get picks when Turner signed elsewhere in 2008.

After Turner signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2008, the Chargers eventually got two fourth-round picks in 2009 as part of the whole complicated process of measuring losses and gains in free agency.

Now, the Chargers can afford to essentially do the same thing with Jackson and Marcus McNeill(notes), although a source close to the situation indicated during the summer that the team will sign McNeill to a long-term deal at some point.

That has led some people in the union to suggest that it fight this process, thus removing the incentive teams have to essentially squat on a player’s rights for a year.

“That’s one of the many issues we have to consider,” a union source said. “It’s troubling, especially if the league is going to push to maintain that free agency be after four years.”

Top five
1. New Orleans Saints:
They’ve been getting a lot of help in the turnover category, but they need to start getting some explosive plays in the passing game.
2. Green Bay Packers: A reader/friend of mine told me in training camp that linebacker Clay Matthews(notes) wasn’t playing well. So much for that scouting report.
3. Houston Texans: One week they run; the next week they pass. This is a pretty talented offense that’s covering for a suspect defense.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Can we please stop it with any future promos for the Manning Bowl? It’s like watching a bowl game between the SEC and the MAC.
5. Chicago Bears: They really should be 1-1, but such is life. The defense has given up some points, but it’s going to be really good eventually.

Bottom five
28. Dallas Cowboys:
OK, they aren’t going to stay here (at least we think), but it’s like they’ve almost forgotten how to play offense.
29. St. Louis Rams: Tough loss at Oakland helps keep the bottom four in order.
30. Cleveland Browns: The Browns are a big reason why both Tampa Bay and Kansas City have opened 2-0.
31. Carolina Panthers: As predicted in this space last week, Jimmy Clausen(notes) was on the threshold of taking over as the Panthers QB.
32. Buffalo Bills: Folks in the Great North are already talking about a winless season. Ouch.

This and that

Speaking of Vincent Jackson, the San Diego Union-Tribune issued a correction/clarification of their report in August that Jackson was being financially supported by agents Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod. Jackson took exception to the report, going so far as to hire high-powered attorney Howard Weitzman to write a letter of complaint to the newspaper.

Faulk is the 10th all-time rushing leader.
(Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Good luck to my fellow media members who vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Based on a quick perusal of the preliminary nominees, this is going to be one of the most brutal years ever to decide upon. Consider the group that’s made up just of first-year eligible players (Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Willie Roaf, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis) and returning finalists (Shannon Sharpe, Tim Brown(notes), Cris Carter, Andre Reed, Richard Dent, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Don Coryell, Dermontti Dawson and Roger Craig). That’s 15 right off the top who deserve a long discussion, and then there are a couple of my personal favorites in Clark Shaughnessy and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. That’s a strong group. For what it’s worth (and that’s nothing, considering I don’t vote), here’s my final seven: Faulk, Sanders, Roaf, Sharpe, Haley, DeBartolo and Shaughnessy.

I’m taking a timeout from the NFL for a second to make a suggestion to college programs: If you want to see arrests of top players curtailed, start fining head coaches every time a player gets arrested (regardless of the final outcome of the case). Start at $20,000 a pop and go from there, and let’s see how long bad behavior is tolerated. At that rate, University of Florida coach Urban Meyer would have lost $600,000 in his six years in Gainesville (30 arrests have been reported). Of course, Meyer can still afford it; he’s the highest-paid state employee. But the point would hit home fast, and the embarrassing conduct would end. This is a college, not a juvenile rehab center. And yes, I live in Gainesville.

Jason Cole is a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Sep 21, 2010