Kolb is history, now what?
The rebuilding of the Arizona Cardinals is underway … again.
The Cardinals are the NFL’s oldest franchise, but certainly not its most esteemed. With the exception of a Super Bowl appearance in the 2008 season that was engineered by quarterback Kurt Warner, they have been more of a tragicomedy than a football team.
When Arizona needed a new quarterback following Warner's retirement after the 2009 season and the subsequent failure of Derek Anderson, it turned to Kevin Kolb, a signing that seemed logical enough. In 2010, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Kolb exhibited a pocket presence that attracted several suitors. The Cardinals won the Kolb derby, but things turned out just as any longtime follower of the team might have expected: Plagued by injuries, he threw a total of only 17 touchdown passes in 2011 and ’12. On March 16, the Kolb era officially ended when Arizona released him, rather than pay a $2 million bonus he would have been due.
What now? For the time being, Arizona’s fortunes hinge on the arm of untested Drew Stanton, whom it signed to a three-year contract a couple days before parting with Kolb. The draft might also yield a quarterback for the Cardinals, perhaps USC’s Matt Barkley. Neither option would pay immediate dividends for first-year head coach Bruce Arians.
The challenges don’t end there for Arians, who inherited a team that finished 5-11 and in last place in the NFC West in 2012. True to form, the Cardinals have underachieved so far this offseason. They have signed a veritable cast of castoffs, including running back Rashard Mendenhall, safety Yeremiah Bell, cornerbacks Jarraud Powers and Antoine Cason, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy.
Mendenhall, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both 2009 and 2010 for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has the biggest upside, but he’s trying to come back from a torn ACL. More than likely, none of these players will be the difference-makers Arizona so desperately needs. So the Cardinals are in a state of flux. Just like always.