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Friday, March 16, 2012
On the Cardinals' Manning/Kolb explanation

By Mike Sando

Kevin Kolb
Kevin Kolb will remain in Arizona and vie for the starting job this season.
The Arizona Cardinals went into the offseason with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton as their top two quarterbacks. They will continue through the offseason that way.

"Regarding today's developments and our quarterback position, acquiring Peyton Manning is no longer an option for us," coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement released by the team Friday.

The full statement continues as follows:
Since the end of last season we made it very clear that our plan was to head into 2012 with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, let the process play out and -- like at every position -- go with the quarterback who gives us the best chance to win.

Obviously something very unique and unexpected presented itself. We’ve said it many times: if there’s an opportunity to make our team better we’ll explore it; we view the potential of adding a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback as one of those. The organization quickly put together an aggressive plan to go after it. We're proud of that and feel very strongly about what we have to offer as a team and as an organization. In the end it didn’t work out but from our perspective it was very positive and we certainly don’t have any regrets about it.

We sit here today in the same spot we were heading into the offseason. That’s with two experienced quarterbacks who have both demonstrated positive things in the past and who we feel good about. Like we said at the end of the season when we won seven of the last nine games, carrying the momentum of that strong finish into 2012 is important and that remains unchanged.

The Cardinals had every reason to consider Manning. Doing so should not be seen as a knock on Kolb or any other unestablished quarterback.

Whisenhunt did not address to what degree the Cardinals' pursuit of Manning compromised their plans in free agency. The team lost cornerback Richard Marshall to the Miami Dolphins and signed guard Adam Snyder.

Out of the running for Manning, the Cardinals reached agreement with Kolb on a restructured contract, ESPN's Suzy Kolber reports via Chris Mortensen. Update: Kolber, speaking on NFL32, said Kolb will receive the $7 million roster bonus from Arizona.

Any new deal would presumably help the Cardinals against the salary cap. Without a restructuring, Kolb's contract was scheduled to count $10.5 million against the salary cap for the deal he signed after Arizona acquired him from Philadelphia.

The Cardinals had been scheduled to pay a $7 million roster bonus to Kolb on Friday. Converting the roster bonus to a signing bonus would be one way to lower the 2012 cap hit significantly without taking money away from Kolb, who would obviously have to cooperate with any negotiation. Going that route would create a larger cap hit next offseason if the Cardinals decided to release Kolb then.

The Friday deadline limited the Cardinals' options. Had Manning signed elsewhere days ago, Arizona could have at least considered alternatives to Kolb in the likely event another veteran had become available. But with Manning undecided between Denver, Tennessee and San Francisco, there was no chance of the Titans releasing Matt Hasselbeck or the 49ers cutting off talks with Alex Smith.

The Cardinals might have stuck with Kolb anyway.

This coming season appears pivotal for the quarterback. ESPN's John Clayton recently cited a source as saying the Cardinals were "desperate" for Manning after "losing confidence" in Kolb. The contract Arizona gave to Kolb last summer identified Kolb as their clear starter. Skelton now has a clearer shot to win the job going into the season.

Kolb finished last season with nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, 30 sacks and a 3-6 starting record featuring one victory in which he left the game after attempting only one pass. The team paid him a $10 million signing bonus and a $2 million salary over the last eight months.