There is no question that Kevin Kolb's maximum value to the Eagles, as an asset to be traded, is right now -- or, rather, as soon as the NFL's collective-bargaining high jinks are concluded. The problem is that, because nobody can accurately predict the new labor landscape, or the timing issues, to be forced to trade him for draft picks that don't arrive until 2012 is nobody's idea of maximum value.
Which is why Kolb is probably staying.
There also is no question that Andy Reid needs to win a Super Bowl in the next couple of years or that will be that for the Eagles' coach -- putting an organizational premium on short-term maneuvering rather than long-term planning. And in the short term, having Kolb in the house for another season, in case Michael Vick gets hurt or plays badly or somehow ends up becoming a free agent himself in the brave new labor world, can be viewed as a justifiable insurance policy, however expensive.
Which is also why Kolb is probably staying.
That is bad news for Kolb, who really is ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but when you play it out in your head, it just seems to be the way the Eagles are probably headed. Game out the scenarios for yourself and decide.
There are at least 10 ways it could go.
--Kolb stays as insurance, Vick plays great, Eagles win the Super Bowl:
At that point, who cares? Kolb leaves, the Eagles receive nothing in return, and Reid and club president Joe Banner bask.
--Kolb stays as insurance, Vick plays well, Eagles fall short:
This is the scenario of regret. Kolb will have been the insurance policy that went uncashed. It will have been the waste of an asset, who will just walk out the door. The organization will be derided for making the wrong call on Kolb but it will enjoy the solace of having made the right call on Vick.
--Kolb stays as insurance, Vick gets hurt for some/much of the season:
This is the most likely scenario and this is the best reason to keep Kolb around. As long as Vick is going to continue to play the way he does -- as long as he is the personification of reckless abandon -- then a viable backup is a necessity for the Eagles, not a luxury. There are some people who doubt Kolb's viability, but they are wrong. He can play.
--Kolb stays as insurance, Vick plays erratically:
Don't kid yourself -- there is a chance this could happen, and not a tiny chance, either. It seems as if the decision has been made, organizationally, to pin the offensive sputtering at the end of the season on the right side of the offensive line. That's fine, as far as it goes. Deep in their hearts, though, the Eagles have to wonder if the NFL figured out Vick by the end of the season -- at least a little bit -- or if he just isn't a special player if he is at less than 100 percent of his healthy explosiveness. Either way, having Kolb on the roster gives them another option, either amid Vick's struggles or after the season. Of course, the fan base will rightly be livid at wasting so much of Kolb's development time.
--Kolb stays as insurance, Vick gets in off-the-field trouble:
Reid pleads for his job and might just keep it -- but it will be a very close call. Truth is, he'll probably be fired. His pitch will be that he invented Kolb and that he deserves a chance, a final chance, to prove it can work. Which would leave him there for one more year, likely an all-or-nothing year with Kolb as his quarterback in 2012.
--Kolb is traded, Vick plays great, Eagles win the Super Bowl:
This is the daily double for Reid and Banner, the absolute maximization of the situation and the ultimate validation of their regime. Much laughter ensues.
--Kolb is traded, Vick plays well, Eagles fall short:
If most of life is not black or white, but gray, this is the grayest for the franchise. There will be calls for Reid to be fired, but there also will be internal justification that the organization did the best with what it had, and that it maximized Kolb's value, and that the Vick decision was a sound one.
--Kolb is traded, Vick gets hurt for some/much of the season:
Again, if you were doing the odds thing, there is a measurably larger probability that Vick gets hurt for part of the season, especially if it is an 18-game season. If the yet-to-be-named backup is a disaster, and if the Eagles have nothing to show for Kolb but a 2012 draft choice, the happiest man in the area will be the guy who is in the business of sharpening the villagers' pitchforks.
--Kolb is traded, Vick plays erratically:
This will get Reid fired. No one will defend him. His expertise with the quarterback position is presumed to be one of Reid's greatest strengths as a coach. If they were to trade Kolb, it would mean that they believed Vick to be a long-term solution at the quarterback position. If Vick were then to play badly, it would mean that Reid just made the biggest mistake of his tenure as the Eagles' coach. Nothing will save him.
--Kolb is traded, Vick gets in off-the-field trouble:
This will get Reid fired at the end of the season -- if it doesn't get him fired immediately. If it went down that way -- and if Kolb ended up being a star someplace else -- it will be the kind of pivotal moment for the franchise that will be chewed over for decades hence.
There are probably variations on these scenarios, but you get the point. It just seems that, in the current window -- from now to 2012 or 2013 -- Reid has a better chance of surviving if Kolb is still here. Which is why he is likely to stay.