General Manager Buddy Nix has made it clear throughout the year that finding a franchise quarterback before he leaves is his No. 1 priority. The team re-signed third string quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. Upon the commencement of free agency the Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick, nearly guaranteeing the fact that the team would be selecting a quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, the Arizona Cardinals released Kevin Kolb on March 15th after he reportedly declined to restructure his contract. The Bills signed him yesterday to a two-year contract worth up to $13 million. Multiple reports have explained that the deal is incentive-laden with benchmarks for passing statistics and playing time.
Kevin Kolb was a second round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, where he backed up Donovan McNabb. The Eagles dealt McNabb to the Washington Redskins and head coach Andy Reid named Kolb the starting quarterback going into the 2010 season.
Kolb suffered an injury and Michael Vick took the National Football League by storm, making Kolb expendable. The Eagles eventually dealt Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Kolb had another rough two years with the Cardinals, dealing with various injuries and failing to beat out John Skelton for the starting position.
Kolb has started 21 games in his career, appearing in 34. In that span he’s posted a 9-12 record while completing 59.5 percent of his passes for 5,206 yards, 28 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Kolb hasn’t put up successful statistics by any means, but he’s never really been given a full opportunity.
Why Kolb Could Be A Good Fit For The Bills
There’s no question that Kolb has dealt with a ton of injuries (concussions, broken ribs), but how’s this for a fun fact? Kolb played 19 games with the Eagles and was sacked just 18 times. In the 15 games he played with the Cardinals, he was sacked 57 times.
The Cardinals also had absolutely no running game, as LaRod Stephens-Howling led the team in rushing with a whopping 357 yards. In addition to a lack of a rushing attack to rely on, the Cardinals’ offensive line was a disaster.
The Bills finally have a solid offensive line in place, with quality players in Cordy Glenn, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik and Chris Hairston in place. Furthermore, with C.J. Spiller, one of the most electric running backs in the National Football League behind him, Kolb should have quite a bit more confidence in himself.
Will this added confidence to stand tall in the pocket and make the reads that lead him to be a second round draft pick and earned high interest on the trade market mean instant success? Who knows? But the Bills have a 28-year old quarterback that may have found a home.
How Should The Bills Address the Quarterback In the Draft?
The acquisition of Kolb did not rule out the possibility of selecting a quarterback in the draft. But it gave them a lot more flexibility than the franchise had two weeks ago. The combination of Nix’s Deadspin fiasco and the release of Fitzpatrick seems like it backed the team in a corner and showed their hand.
With the lack of a clear cut No. 1 quarterback prospect in the draft, the Bills now could go in a variety of directions with their first round pick. However, once second-to-third rounds commence, things could get interesting.
Does Nix want to take a prospect like E.J. Manuel in the second round to have him compete with Kolb for a starting role? Or does he address another position of need in the second, and add a developmental prospect such as Zac Dysert out of Miami (Ohio) that could develop throughout the remainder of Kolb’s two-year deal?
The Bills made a move at the most important position of need on the roster. No quarterback who will be on the roster following the 2013 NFL draft is guaranteed a starting position, and head coach Doug Marrone has clarified this, telling BuffaloBills.com’s lead journalist Chris Brown
“I spoke with Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and Tarvaris (Jackson) and told them we will have an open competition at the quarterback position – similar to what we will do at all positions on our team heading into our offseason work,” said Marrone. “I believe that our players will embrace this challenge. We are looking forward to working with our players as we prepare for the 2013 season.”
Replace Fitzpatrick with Kevin Kolb and you get the picture.
The Bills have a relatively high quality roster aside from quarterback and the team appears to be doing everything they can to address the position. With Marrone entering his first year and having no loyalties to any players on the team, there will be competition at every position, and that’s what the team needs.