Both NFL Network and ESPN are now reporting that the Eagles plan to give Michael Vick the franchise tag. They will also entertain trade offers for Kevin Kolb. I don’t think this is the best course of action. The Eagles are right to choose Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb, but I don’t like how they’re handling the situation. First of all, I believe it is very important to reach a long-term deal with Vick. This would be advantageous for two major reasons. It would allow the Eagles to rest assured that Vick will be their quarterback over the long run and they would not have to worry about resigning him next season. Secondly, Vick’s annual average in a long-term deal would be much lower than the franchise tag value. Seeing as Philip Rivers is making around $14 million per season and Tom Brady recently signed a $16 million per season extension, Vick is probably worth between $12 and $15 million per season. In contrast, the franchise tag value (which has not been set yet, and still may not even exist for the 2011 season) has been estimated to be as high as $24 million for quarterbacks by NFL Network. I think that figure is grossly overestimated. It should be closer to $18 million. Throw in a probably extension for DeSean Jackson, and the Eagles will have a payroll slightly over $90 million. Once the Eagles pick through the role players they want to retain, they should have between $40 and $50 million in cap space to work with. This isn’t as much as my previous estimate, but it’s more than enough to go after somebody like Nnamdi Asomugha.
I’m also disappointed with the Eagles for being so open about shopping Kevin Kolb. I would try to make Kolb happy in Eagle green because he’s a very valuable backup quarterback who isn’t in a bad spot here. He plays behind a quarterback who runs a very high risk of injury each and every time he steps out on the field, and if/when Kolb gets on the field, he will have unparalleled offensive firepower around him. I believe the Eagles could have at least tried to talk him into accepting the backup role, but it seems that ship has sailed with the report that Philly will be actively shopping him. What should we get in return for Kolb though? A lot of teams have needs at quarterback, and beyond the team that gets Blaine Gabbert, nobody will be thrilled about having Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, or Jake Locker as the future of their franchise. In other words, if teams treat Kevin Kolb as a draft prospect, he would be the second quarterback on nearly every team’s board. That means a team would likely be willing to spend the equivalent of a first round selection for Kolb. Two likely scenarios both involve Kolb going to an NFC West squad. The Eagles could swap first round picks with San Francisco (7th overall for 23rd overall) or acquire Arizona’s 37th overall pick as well as another second rounder in 2012. But, the Eagles must ask themselves, is a developmental player or maybe two equal in value to Kevin Kolb? Can Mike Kafka win a couple of games if Vick goes down for a month or two to keep playoff hopes alive? Only the Eagles know the answer to these questions, but I would hang onto Kolb unless he grows very unhappy or if the Eagles are offered a great deal.
Ultimately, the Eagles can’t complain about their quarterback situation regardless of what happens. A number of teams would kill to be in the position we are in, but I’m not sure Andy Reid will play his cards right. I know Bill Belichick would absolutely cash in if he were faced with this “problem”.