The Cardinals traded for quarterback Kevin Kolb (right) Thursday, in exhange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (left) and a second-round pick.
In some ways, it feels like Kevin Kolb has been a Cardinal for months, thanks to the speculation that surrounded the quarterback during the absence-of-news, labor-strife-interrupted offseason.
Thursday, it became official. The quarterback was finally acquired by the Cards in a trade that sent former Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to the Eagles in exchange.
It was a steep price to pay. But the Cards believe Kolb can be their long-term QB of the future, wanting to pair him with Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for years assuming they can get Fitzgerald to ink a contract extension.
Whether the move impacts Fitzgerald's decision was left unsaid by Fitzgerald Thursday – "I hope so, but who knows?" coach Ken Whisenhunt said – but Whisenhunt acknowledged it's going to be the big picture prism within which the trade will be viewed.
"We went after a guy we had the highest-rated and a lot of people thought he was the best quarterback available," Whisenhunt said.
"But none of that really matters. What matters is whether we win as a team. Obviously if we win a lot of games as a team, he's going to have performed well. That's ultimately how it's going to be judged, and I'll be honest with you – I'm comfortable with that."
Kolb, scheduled to be a free agent after the season, will get his own contract extension. Multiple reports peg it as a five-year deal worth up to $63 million, with about $20 million in guarantees. The trade comes the same day the Cards released last year's starter, Derek Anderson (along with linebacker Gerald Hayes).
Graves said the Cards went into this brief offseason with five quarterback candidates to chase but that Kolb – who had interested them since he came out of the University of Houston in 2007 – was their top choice.
Whisenhunt also said that, initially, he did not want to surrender Rodgers-Cromartie and the team was not shopping DRC, who struggled much of 2010 after his Pro Bowl season in 2009. But "it comes down to what you have to do to get a deal done," Whisenhunt said.
"You can go back to what teams have given up in quarterback trades, but circumstances and the market have to dictate what you are doing," Graves said. "We feel he can come in and … put us in position to be a championship-caliber football team. What's the price for that? To get in that position, let's just say we did what we felt like we had to do."
Losing Rodgers-Cromartie does weaken what looked like a very strong cornerback corps. First-round pick Patrick Peterson seems a lock to start now with Greg Toler; asked if the Cardinals would be acquiring a cornerback Whisenhunt just referenced the young corners already on the roster.
Kolb, 26, has seven starts in his four-year NFL career, throwing for 2,082 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 19 games. In his seven starts, his passing rating was 81.2.
"I heard he's a great guy and I'm sure he'll make our team better," fellow Cardinals quarterback John Skelton said. "I'm just going to go in and compete and I'm sure we'll make each other better."
"He'll be a great addition to the quarterbacks we have here," running back LaRod Stephens-Howling said. "As long as he works hard and is a leader, and the best quarterback gets on the field, I'm all for it."
The only certainty on the short-term Kolb timeline is that he will arrive in Tempe Friday morning to take a physical. Both he and Rodgers-Cromartie have to pass physicals before the trade can be officially completed, but both are not expected to have any issues.
Graves still was hesitant to talk about when Kolb's practice debut will come. Any veteran without a contract for 2011 signing a new deal cannot practice until Aug. 4 but it's unclear how that affects a player such as Kolb who was under contract but re-did his deal.
Whisenhunt acknowledged "there are no guarantees in this business" when it comes to predicting Kolb's success. But the Cards have hitched themselves to the Texas native, hoping he will be everything they think he can be.
"Be patient Card fans," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett tweeted. "I believe in my coach, he is gonna make some big moves. I know y'all are a lil (angry) but just know we gonna win the west!"