ESPN’s Mike Sando weighs in on Kevin Kolb

In keeping with the Clayton list, ESPN’s Mike Sando takes a deeper look at the Kevin Kolb contract in the NFC West blog. Sando does a really excellent job of laying out what went into the decision and reasons why it sometimes is more difficult than not to look at a number and say “bad deal”.

Arizona fell into the trap of falling in love with the backup QB. It happens time and time again. Most times it does not work out (Rob Johnson, Matt Cassel, etc…), but occasionally (Matt Schaub) it can pay dividends. What was more difficult here is that Kolb had shown just as much bad as he did good in his brief playing tenure in Philadelphia. The Eagles were prepared to move on from an ineffective Donovan McNabb in 2008, but Kolb was so bad in relief against the Baltimore Ravens that the idea was immediately scrapped. He would get two chances to start in 2009, one of which was a good game and the other a good statistical game in which he threw three picks and was blown out. Once McNabb was healthy he retook the starting position. He showed little special when finally given the ball in 2010 before getting injured and eventually replaced by Mike Vick.

Maybe Arizona was swayed by the success of Aaron Rodgers. Maybe they felt that if you paired Kolb with Larry Fitzgerald that it would be a match made in heaven. But the risk with the move was very high and they compounded the cost by sinking more money into Kolb when they should have moved on after one season. Here is Sando’s take on the future:

Kolb’s deal included $20 million in compensation for the first two seasons. His salary is scheduled to be $9 million in 2013. The team must account for $6 million in future salary-cap charges related to Kolb whether or not he remains on the roster. That $6 million charge could be spread across more than one year. Seeking a reduced salary for Kolb could make sense if the team thinks he can still provide value in the future.

The $6 million cap charge is the remaining proration from his $10 million signing bonus that is unaccounted for. By designating Kolb a June 1 cut the Cardinals can spread that hit over two seasons, with $2 million being charged to 2013 and $4 million charged to 2014. There is a catch to doing that, however. If the Cardinals designate Kolb a June 1st cut they will carry his full cap charge, $13.5 million, throughout free agency with the relief coming after June 1st.  By just using the normal cut and taking the full $6 million hit the Cardinals will free up $7.5 million in immediate cap room. Kolb has a roster bonus due on the 5th day of the League Year, so a decision will need to be made before that date.