Larry Fitzgerald has spoken. Media reports have said that the Cardinals star wide receiver wants Kevin Kolb as his quarterback next season.
The report has prompted Cardinals’ fans, talk show hosts and even respected columnists to hit the panic button saying the Cardinals should do whatever it takes to make Fitzgerald happy even if it means trading their first round pick (fifth overall) to the Eagles to pry Kolb away from them.
This would be a colossal mistake on the Cardinals’ part if they were to make a knee-jerk reaction to Fitzgerald’s requests.
Fitzgerald will be entering the final year of his contract next year and the Cardinals are desperate to make their best player happy so that he doesn’t bolt when he becomes a free agent.
Should the Cardinals be trying to keep Fitzgerald from thinking the grass might be greener on another team? Of course, however, the team must act carefully so that they don’t make a costly decision that would put the franchise back for years to come.
First, Kevin Kolb is a completely unproven commodity. He’s been in the league for four years now and has been unable to keep a starting job with every opportunity he’s been given and has been unimpressive when he’s gotten on the field.
Kolb has made only seven starts in his career and thrown 3 more interceptions than he has touchdowns (11-14). His average completion is only 6.5 yards per catch.
Certainly, these aren’t the numbers that scream worthy of the number five pick of the draft which is believed to be the Eagles’ asking price for the Cardinals to acquire Kolb.
Skeptics can point to the last time the Cardinals had the fifth pick in the draft and took Levi Brown as a reason to think the fifth pick would be nothing special, but keep in mind that when the Cardinals took Brown with that pick, they left Adrian Peterson on the board.
And I’m not suggesting that the Cardinals have to draft a quarterback with their first round pick either.
When a franchise drafts a quarterback that high in the draft, the organization is hitching themselves to that quarterback for the foreseeable future. If a team swings and misses on a franchise quarterback, it sets the organization back for years to come. One only has to look to the Oakland Raiders with JaMarcus Russell to see how badly that can turn out.
When looking at the top quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, I’m not convinced that any of them will turn out to be great, but I’m not an NFL scout.
This is where an organization has to rely on its scouting department and it pays to have a shrewd evaluator of talent in either the general manager or head coach’s chair or both.
If the Cardinals front office or coaching staff believes that Jake Locker, Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Mallett is the next Aaron Rodgers, then the team should hold onto the pick and select their supposed franchise quarterback.
If they don’t believe in any of these guys, then they should look to address other areas of weakness like linebacker or offensive line with their first round selection.
NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Sunday morning that the Cardinals talked with Fitzgerald and found the wide receiver recommended Kolb first, but also liked Marc Bulger.
Marc Bulger is a far better option at quarterback for the team. He will be an unrestricted free agent which would only require the Cardinals to convince him to sign with them and why wouldn’t Bulger want to come to Arizona. He would be a sure thing to start given the Cardinals other dreadful options at quarterback who are currently on the roster and he would get to play with one of the best wide receivers in the game in Fitzgerald.
Bulger having been a two-time Pro Bowler and leading the Rams to the playoffs twice has accomplished far more in his career than Kolb.
However, Bulger would come with his own question marks. He has been injury prone the last couple of years and didn’t play a single down this season.
Many believe that he is washed up and that could very well turn out to be true, but he still represents the better option for the Cardinals.
If signing Bulger were to blow up in the team’s face, at least they still would have added a quality player with their first round pick, whereas if the team acquired Kolb and he turned out to be a bust, then team would also have lost out on drafting a great player.
Either way, the Cardinals could suffer another awful season with bad quarterback play prompting Fitzgerald to seriously considering leaving for another team.
However, the Cardinals’ number one priority should be finding the best quarterback for the future whether it’s this season or next season and not on keeping Fitzgerald happy.
For as truly great as Fitzgerald is, he plays a position that makes him dependent on others or mostly the quarterback spot.
True, a great receiver like Fitzgerald can help make a quarterback be better, but only to a certain extent. We saw plenty of evidence of that this season as Fitzgerald was rendered a non-factor for much of the season because the Cardinals didn’t have a decent quarterback to get him the ball and make him effective.
However, a great quarterback can take average receivers and make them look good as Tom Brady and Philip Rivers have been doing for the past few seasons.
That’s why franchises are built around quarterbacks; because they make the biggest difference in whether their team is good or not.
You hear the term “franchise quarterback” thrown around the NFL, but not “franchise wide receiver” and that’s because a team isn’t built around a wide receiver.
The Cardinals should stick to finding the right franchise quarterback for the long haul that can take them back to the top even if it means risking losing their best wide receiver in team history.