RENTON – Fans will finally get to see Kevin Kolb quarterback a team in Seattle. But he will be in an Arizona uniform as the Cardinals visit the Seahawks on Sunday.
And while it’s not quite a fair apples-to-apples comparison, fans will use this as an opportunity to judge what their quarterback situation is now with Tarvaris Jackson compared to what it might have been with Kolb.
As a little-used backup in Philadelphia, Kolb became the darling of the quarterback-starved NFC West. The Seahawks, in fact, were in the market for him twice, once when they traded for Charlie Whitehurst in 2010, and again when they picked up Jackson as a free agent in the past offseason.
San Francisco and Seattle were potential destinations, but Arizona saw enough in Kolb to commit to him as the future of the franchise with a five-year, $64 million contract ($21 million guaranteed). They also sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philadelphia, and kicked in next year’s second-round draft pick.
Going on statistics alone, the huge investment in Kolb carried risks. He’d started only seven games and had a passer rating in the low 70s. Jackson is a year older, but had started 20 games with a career passer rating of 86.
“We had Kevin rated the highest of all of the guys, and when we had the opportunity to pursue that once the lockout ended, that’s what we did,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week. “We know how important that position is on your football team. We think he brings a lot to the table, not only as a player but from a leadership standpoint.”
Kolb (pronounced Cobb, the “L” is silent) was on the Seahawks’ shopping list two years ago, but even Kolb suggested his price tag was unreasonable. “I think they were asking something outrageous,” Kolb said.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll agreed, citing interest in Kolb’s potential, but acknowledging that their interest dimmed at the time because of “compensation and amount it was a big consideration.”
Arizona was certainly the most desperate this time around, ranking 31st in the NFL in passing with a quartet of incompetents combining for a 60.5 rating last season.
Kolb has led Arizona to a 1-1 record with a 110.3 passer rating, the fifth-highest in the league. Down at 25th is Jackson (80.1).
“Kevin Kolb has done a real nice job,” Carroll said. “He’s a terrific addition to their team and it seems like they’ve really come alive.”
Every quarterback in the league aspires to be “the man” for a franchise, Kolb said.
“To come to a place like this, I couldn’t be more excited,” he said Wednesday in a conference call. “I think we have a good, talented team; everybody’s hungry, everybody’s excited about what we’re doing. I love this system and this coaching staff, so, for me, I’m very happy to be here.”
Kolb has thrown four touchdown passes, and the Cardinals are averaging 16 yards per catch compared to the Seahawks’ 8.7 yards.
So, no, he’s not offended that the Seahawks didn’t make a stronger push for his services, and he will carry no extra motivation into Sunday’s game.
“(If) you get all caught up in that stuff, then you’re thinking about the wrong things,” he said. “I’m thinking about (Seahawks safety) Earl Thomas getting down there in the box and things like that. I have plenty to digest and think about throughout the week.”
He’s playing well enough without harboring grudges.
“He’s shown the ability to make big plays,” Carroll said. “They’re benefiting from his acquisition; he looks very good in their program.”
Throwing to All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald helps. It also gets easier when you haven’t been sacked 10 times in two games as has Jackson.
Jackson has not yet been the answer to the many problems the Seahawks have on offense, but he’s not been the most obvious limiting factor, either.
When the Seahawks and Matt Hasselbeck failed to come to terms, they had to examine options. Could a team with as many needs as they had afford $13 million a year as well as a 2009 Pro Bowl cornerback and a second-round pick on Kolb, especially given the limited evidence of his potential?
In the end, they signed Jackson for less than one-third that expense.
And we may all judge the relative value off the approach on Sunday.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com