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Friday, June 3, 2011
Around the NFC West: QB gamesmanship

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have options beyond Kevin Kolb and could go after Kyle Orton if they can get him for less. Somers: "If when, or if, there is a settlement, I still expect the Cardinals to immediately pursue a trade for Eagles quarterback Kolb. But I also think the Cardinals will make it clear to the Eagles that they have other options. I'm hearing the Cardinals also think highly of Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who supposedly is available via trade. I believe the Cardinals have Kolb rated slightly ahead of Orton, but maybe not enough to justify paying a bounty to the Eagles for him. In other words, why give up substantially more for Kolb than you would for Orton?" On the flip side, the Eagles do not necessarily have to make a deal. They'll need insurance for Michael Vick, who takes too many hits to stay healthy for a full season. We should expect the Eagles to build value for Kolb while other teams try to suppress that value. There's no consensus that Kolb is a franchise savior. Upgrading is the key for Arizona. Kolb or Orton would upgrade the position from last season and give the Cardinals a chance to contend within the division.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says cornerback Greg Toler's physical approach should serve him well under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Also, numbers support the notion that Alan Branch played better last season.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times notes from Seahawks practice that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been invited to train with Larry Fitzgerald and other Cardinals players this offseason. That would generate some buzz.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with former center Robbie Tobeck and others for thoughts on some of the best offensive linemen in team history. On Walter Jones: "Walt was your shutdown left tackle who had his way of doing things that you kind of followed as an example."

Also from Farnsworth: a look back at the 1986 team, which won its final five to finish 10-6, but did not qualify for the playoffs. Farnsworth: "It was during that ’86 season that the Seahawks beat both teams that eventually made it to the Super Bowl, yet failed to make the postseason themselves. They closed the season with a 41-16 drubbing of the Denver Broncos at the Kingdome, only to then watch as the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns in the playoffs. In that regular-season finale, Curt Warner ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns, including a 60-yarder; and Steve Largent caught six passes for 101 yards."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks Rams owner Stan Kroenke will decide to stay in St. Louis or leave based on factors outside any labor agreement. Burwell: "Even as Kroenke skillfully floats the idea that an owner-friendly CBA will guarantee professional football in St. Louis, I know that there are no guarantees with the NFL owners. We have enough of a track record in front of us to know that. Their franchises continue to go up in value. Not one of them is worried about shutting down as some pro basketball owners legitimately fear. They do not have to fret about franchise relocation as a means of survival as some NHL owners do. I'm just like everyone else who lives in St. Louis and loves pro football. I want to see the Rams stay here. But don't tell me that a new deal that is pro-owner will keep Kroenke's wandering economic eyes diverted from the glittering pot of gold off on the horizon in Los Angeles, because it won't. Unlike the NHL, pro football owners like Kroenke, Ziggy Wilf and others aren't threatening to abandon their towns for LA because of lack of local support. They're threatening to flee to Los Angeles because it will either get them an even more extravagant deal to stay or a fabulously more extravagant deal to leave." I do not recall Kroenke threatening to relocate the Rams. The threat has long been an implied one based on the Rams' ability to escape their stadium lease eventually.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith has pledged to help out rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Barrows: "Kaepernick has been participating fully in the weight-lifting portions of the workouts. (Those who said he was too skinny should see him after a lift. He looks like a defensive end). However, he is still not running after having a surgery on his left leg last month, and he is only doing some light throwing."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says it is "unprecedented" for a No. 1 overall pick to stay with his team this long after all that Alex Smith has gone through with the 49ers. Maiocco: "It's amazing the 49ers have stuck with him. And it's even more improbable that Smith -- despite hearing loud boos last season -- decided to remain. After all, the easy thing for Smith would be to run away and close this chapter of his professional career."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Smith expects running back Frank Gore to attend player-organized workouts at some point.