Thursday, February 11, 2016

Decisions: Leinart, Jackson and Kolb

Three NFC teams have made the playoffs the last two years.

Decisions: Leinart, Jackson and Kolb


Three NFC teams have made the playoffs the last two years.

And each one faces some kind of decision at quarteback this offseason.

The Eagles have not wavered from the idea that Donovan McNabb will be their starter in 2010.

The Cardinals face perhaps the most difficult decision of the three, assuming Kurt Warner announces his retirement Friday, and sticks with it thereafter.

And the Vikings of course are on Brett Favre-watch for the next several months.

All three teams have young quarterbacks on their rosters -- guys that were drafted in 2006 and 2007, with various levels of NFL experience. The decisions the Cardinals and Vikings make could affect the Eagles' future.

Below is a simple chart comparing where Matt Leinart, Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb are in their respective careers.

  Age Drafted Games started Record TDs INTs QB rating
Matt Leinart 26 2006: 10th overall 16 7-9 14 20 70.8
Tarvaris Jackson 26 2006: 64th overall 19 10-9 21 18 77.9
Kevin Kolb 25 2007: 36th overall 2 1-1 4 7 68.9

Obviously, the Kolb numbers (record, TDs, INTs, QB rating) don't count for much since he's only attempted 130 passes in the NFL. I more wanted to include his age, draft position and games started.

Something else to take into account is the contract situation of each QB.

Leinart is scheduled to make $2.485M in 2010, but that number jumps to $7.36M for the 2011 season. If he plays out those two years, he would become a restricted free agent in 2012.

Jackson is currently a restricted free agent.

And Kolb would become a restricted free agent after next season.

It's an interesting comparison, given the quarterback situation of each of the three teams when the players were drafted.

Leinart obviously had the highest profile. The Cardinals were coming off seven straight losing seasons. Kurt Warner was the starter, but not not the Warner you remember now. He was the Warner that was coming off a disastrous season with the Giants in 2004.

In 2005, Arizona was 2-8 in 10 games with him as the starter, as Warner tossed 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Leinart was given the straight-on "franchise quarterback" label, and it was assumed it would only be a matter of time until he took over. As a rookie, he started 11 games, throwing for 405 yards in a Week 12 matchup against the Vikings. But the next season, he couldn't hold on to the job, suffered a season-ending injury and never won it back.

Now, Arizona will have to decide whether they want to continue to groom Leinart in 2010 or take a shot on a veteran QB who might be more likely to get them to a Super Bowl next season. A tough decision, considering their high talent level at the offensive skill positions and the fact that the Cardinals have won four playoff games the last two seasons.

The Vikings, meanwhile, had tried hard to convince everyone that Jackson is their guy. But that changed when they had a shot at landing Favre last offseason. Their situation is tricky since MInnesota is probably the most Super Bowl-ready of the three. How long will they wait before demanding a decision from Favre? If he retires, will they again hand the keys over to Jackson? Or will they try to acquire another veteran, in the interest of maximizing their potential in 2010?

And finally, the Eagles. They're backing McNabb, but if a team calls, are they at least willing to listen? If there becomes a great need at QB for a handful of teams, and the potential market for McNabb becomes higher than they expected, will that change their stance?

Three franchises. Three decisions at the most important position in football. We'll see if one move affects the others in the next few months.
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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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