When Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt announced on Friday that his team was no longer in the Peyton Manning chase, he did not anoint Kevin Kolb the starter. Instead, Whisenhunt mentioned both Kolb and John Skelton as potential starters.
Whisenhunt’s statement said the team plans “to head into 2012 with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton,” and Whisenhunt has made clear this offseason that both guys will get an opportunity to earn the starting job.
Kolb is the favorite to win the starting job. The Cardinals committed to him last year when they gave up a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to acquire him, and they’re committing to him financially by paying him a $7 million roster bonus today.
But Skelton will get a chance to beat Kolb out in the offseason and training camp, a chance he earned by being a big part of the Cardinals’ great late-season run. Kolb’s stats were better than Skelton’s last year, but the Cardinals were a better team when Skelton played: They went 2-6 with Kolb as their quarterback and 6-2 with Skelton.
That Skelton, a 2010 fifth-round pick, even has a chance to win the starting job shows how disappointing Kolb was last year. Obviously, the Cardinals would never have traded for Kolb and given him a five-year, $63.5 million contract if they thought there was a chance at the time that Skelton would turn out to be the better option.
So Kolb has a big job on his hands this offseason: He has to convince Whisenhunt that he’s the best quarterback on the roster. Losing his job to Manning would have been one thing. But if Kolb can’t even beat out Skelton, then we may look back at that trade and say the Eagles fleeced the Cardinals even worse than they fleeced the Redskins when they traded Donovan McNabb.