On Kolb to the Cardinals...

On Kolb to the Cardinals...

The nice thing about the new team pages is we can comment on stories we otherwise might not have in the past. This is one of those. (As it turns out, it made the main page after all.)

We actually did post about Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, and how the Cards' front office supposedly solicited the star's input on their quarterback situation several months ago. Legend has it Fitz lobbied for Kevin Kolb and other veteran signal callers, though the report was later refuted in its entirety.

But wouldn't you know it, the draft came and went, and Arizona failed to address the canyon-sized hole they have under center. I mean, they didn't draft ANYBODY, and Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton were their quarterbacks last year. That's quite the collection. Needless to say, if they weren't one of the prime candidates to trade for Kolb before, they certainly are now.

The latest bit of gossip comes from an Adam Schefter report on ESPN's NFL Live, where the newsman announced the Eagles' backup QB is destined for Arizona.

“Kevin Kolb is going to get dealt from Philadelphia, most likely going to be to the NFC West, and right now all signs point to Arizona.”

Schefter isn't exactly going out on a limb here--if the Cardinals aren't feeling desperate, they should be--but wow. All signs... that's, like, all of them. Or is it?

The Bulger Problem

The other name we keep hearing in Arizona, and the other allegedly mentioned by Fitzgerald, is former Rams QB Marc Bulger. Bulger finally washed out in '09 after years of injuries and playing on crappy teams. He wound up a backup to Joe Flacco in Baltimore last season, his best days seemingly behind him.

Nonetheless, various reports are putting Bulger in Cardinal red via a verbal agreement, but that doesn't necessarily preclude them from the Kolb discussion.

At this point, the idea anybody would be relying on a 34 year old quarterback whose last and arguably only quality season was back in 2006 sounds absurd. Perhaps it's a sign of how hard up some teams are for passers, or maybe they are hoping Bulger can come in and be Kolb's backup next. It could be an emergency option too, in case they are unable to land Kolb for one reason or another. Whatever the case, Bulger as the planned starting quarterback on day one anywhere is more than a little hard to swallow.

Kolb for Peterson?

If this site had a Frequently Asked Questions section, "Why do the comments show up in reverse order?" would be followed by, "Will the Eagles exchange Kolb for Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft?" The theory is Arizona management selected the top incoming cornerback prospect with a wink toward Philly's front office.

First off, let's be clear that I don't think this would be a good swap for the Cardinals, and seriously doubt they really had that in mind. Kolb is clearly worth a first round pick, but fifth overall? That's steep, especially when it winds up being arguably the best prospect in the entire process. Essentially, it's one player who might be a franchise quarterback for one who might be a future Hall of Famer?

Whether you think you can justify that or not, it may not even be possible. Under the rules in the expired collective bargaining agreement, each team is allowed a "rookie salary pool," or cap, based on where their selections were made. Basically, if those rules were to remain in place after all this lockout drama ends, the Eagles won't have a high enough ceiling to get Peterson signed. Sam from Igglez Blitz goes into greater detail on the topic.

The other possibility we hear is the Cards sign Peterson, then complete the transaction with Philly. Really, you think Joe Banner or any team president would let another team negotiate with a player for them? I guess (and I'm not clear on whether that would comply with the rule either), but it might be time to admit Arizona was simply taking the best player on the board, and this particular trade would be a stretch to say the least.

Seattle still in the Cards, and all the rest

Notice Schefter did leave for the possibility Kolb could still wind up elsewhere, and did specify in the NFC West. Since San Francisco snagged their quarterback in the second round, and the Rams are married to Sam Bradford, that pretty much leaves the Seahawks.

Seattle is definitely a sensible landing spot for Kolb, as they have been trying to transition away from Matt Hasselbeck. Some people might point out they were burned swapping seconds and sending a third rounder to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst last year, and that may very well be the case, but it wasn't necessarily a large enough investment to block a move for another quarterback.

In all honesty though, they may not be the only club remaining that can get involved. Most notably, the Dolphins did not replace Chad Henne as many thought they would. However, they have been tied to Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer. The Bills are weak under center, but may not be the most likely players due to the fact they are a perpetually rebuilding, small market franchise. And again, there are the Redskins, but I'm not sure the Birds would be as quick to send a young quarterback to the division rival.

So looking at the list of potential suitors, Arizona and Seattle still appear to be the most likely. It could also be some of the other teams haven't jumped into the fray simply because they are waiting for the lockout to end.

Whatever is really going on behind the scenes, we are hearing one team already has a 2012 first rounder on the table for Kolb. Andy Reid is naturally denying, but smoke equals fire. The Cardinals need a quarterback in the worst possible way, and the Eagles need to part with a quarterback in the worst possible way. It may be only a matter of time now.

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

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End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Dougherty
What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

Hall
I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
 
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
 
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
 
Read said he learned a lot last season.
 
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
 
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
 
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
 
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Paone
Want to talk about having something to lose? How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

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Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles' best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher. 

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

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Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

Seeking to avoid being swept for the first time since their opening series in Cincinnati, the Phillies on Sunday afternoon will ask Tommy Joseph to provide a much needed spark.

Joseph, 24, sat out Saturday's 4-1 loss to the MLB-best Cubs with Chicago trotting out right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who crafted a five-hit, one-run complete game masterpiece.

It will be Joseph's fifth game against a righty this week, as manager Pete Mackanin's platoon at first base with Ryan Howard seemingly is coming to an end. Joseph will bat fifth.

With the Phillies averaging 3.22 runs per game, second-worst in baseball, and owning a run differential of minus-38, playing Joseph more is one of a few moves Mackanin can make.

Take into account Howard's average dipped to .154 after an 0 for 4, two-strikeout game Saturday, the decision to give Joseph more at-bats makes sense. It has for a while now.

Plus, Joseph has enjoyed success during his time up with the Phillies. The first baseman is hitting .290 with two home runs and four RBIs. He is, however, hitting just .211 with seven of his 10 strikeouts in 19 at-bats against righties. He'll face a good one in John Lackey (4-2, 3.32) on Sunday.

Mackanin has also decided to start Andres Blanco at second base against Chicago, which has proved to be too much for the Phils through the first two games. Blanco, 32, will bat third against Lackey, who he has never faced in his career. The utility man is hitting .281 with one long ball and eight RBIs in 35 games this season.

In other lineup news, the Cubs will start Villanova product Matt Szczur in left field in the series finale, giving Jorge Soler the day off. During his junior baseball season at 'Nova in 2010, Szczur took time off to donate bone marrow that helped saved a young girl in Ukraine. (Read more on Szczur here from CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury.) Szczur is hitting .375 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 40 at-bats this season with Chicago.

Here are today's full lineups:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Andres Blanco, 2B
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Vince Velasquez, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

Cubs
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jayson Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Addison Russell, SS
8. Matt Szczur, LF
9. John Lackey, P

For more on today's game, read Steven Tyding's game notes.