With a $2 million roster bonus and a $9 million base salary due in 2013, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb has to hear the footsteps at this point. That's a lot of scratch for a player who, since his signed a six-year, $63.5 million contract with the Cards' former front office in 2011, has underperformed to say the least. With new general manager John Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians replacing Rod Graves and Ken Whisenhunt in those roles, it's safe to say that the new blood doesn't want to be saddled with a huge cap hit for a guy who might not even be good enough to start in Arians' more vertical system.
Per Adam Caplan of the Sideline View and the Philadelphia Eagles' official website, the Cardinals will meet with Kolb about those numbers later this week. Kolb's roster bonus is due on Saturday, and the team will unquestionably ask him to take a major pay cut. Beset by injuries through his two-year term in Arizona, the former second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles out of Houston has started just seven games for the Cardinals. He's completed 255 passes in 436 attempts for 3,124 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Last season, John Skelton started more games and threw more footballs, but was even less effective.
The problem is not just that Kolb has been hurt; it's also that any quarterback in Arians' offense must be able to throw the ball deep with consistency, and Kolb has never proven able to do that. In 2012, as the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator and interim head coach, Arians directed a passing attack that had rookie quarterback Andrew Luck throwing 101 passes with targets 20 yards or more down the field, per Pro Football Focus' metrics. That's nine more deep passes than Joe Flacco threw for the Baltimore Ravens, and Flacco is the acknowledged best deep-ball thrower in the NFL. Kolb threw 15 passes with targets 20 or more downfield in 2012, and he completed four of them. That's not a great precedent.
"The biggest thing for us right now is you can't talk to [the players] about football, and that's what we need to talk about," Arians said at the scouting combine in late February. "We know we have talent on our roster, we know there is talent in the draft. As we grow as a team we'll determine what is best for the Arizona Cardinals at that position. We have some tough decisions to make because of roster bonuses and things before we can talk football."
No doubt, that first roster bonus on Arians' mind is Kolb's.