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Cardinals release QB Kolb after two injury-plagued seasons

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Associated Press
3/15/2013 5:37:31 PM
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PHOENIX -- The Arizona Cardinals have released Kevin Kolb, ending the quarterback's two injury-filled seasons with the team.

The team's move on Friday came just ahead of the deadline for paying Kolb a $2 million roster bonus. The team paid Kolb some $20 million over two seasons after acquiring him in a trade that sent a second-round draft pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The move reportedly saved $7 million in salary cap space. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were spending the money left and right, agreeing to terms Friday on one-year contracts with former San Diego and ex-University of Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason and ex-Oakland defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. Arizona has made eight free agent acquisitions since Wednesday, a sign of the shake-up the franchise is undergoing under new management and a new coaching staff.

Kolb was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play in his two seasons in Arizona.

He was due to make $9 million this coming season. Earlier this week, Arizona signed free agent quarterback Drew Stanton. Stanton was the backup last season at Indianapolis, where new coach Bruce Arians was interim head coach.

At his news conference announcing the firing of coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said "I'm not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet," but the team wound up doing just that after bringing in Arians and elevating Steve Keim to the position of general manager.

Kolb appeared in 15 games in two seasons with Arizona, 14 as a starter.

Last season, he lost the starting job to John Skelton but came on in the opener after Skelton was hurt to direct the winning touchdown drive against Seattle. Arizona went on to a 4-0 start with Kolb at quarterback, but in Week 6 he tore cartilage from his ribs on a broken play and never played again. The Cardinals, meanwhile, lost 11 of their last 12 to finish 5-11, costing Whisenhunt his job and bringing in Arians to try to clean up the mess of what was the worst offence in the NFL.

There was no way Arizona was going to bring back Kolb with his big contract. The only possibility was a restructuring for less money, and that didn't happen, with Kolb now seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Instead, Arians and Keim went after Stanton, signing him to a three-year, $8.2 million deal with $3 million guaranteed. Skelton and Ryan Lindley remain on the Arizona roster. The team also has made a tender offer to Brian Hoyer, who was signed late last season and started the season finale against San Francisco.

The Cardinals probably will address the quarterback position in the draft, although not necessarily with their first-round pick, the No. 7 choice overall. They could opt for an offensive lineman with that selection and go after a quarterback in the second or third round.

Arizona had expected Kolb to be the franchise quarterback the team has sorely lacked following the retirement of Kurt Warner after the 2009 season.

After the trade at the end of the 2011 NFL lockout, Kolb signed a five-year, $63 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. But he had trouble adapting to Whisenhunt's offence, Arizona got off to a 1-6 start and Kolb went down with a toe injury. Arizona regrouped and Kolb returned to lead the team to an overtime victory over Dallas, but he was sidelined with a concussion the following week and was lost for the season.

In his two seasons with Arizona, Kolb completed 58 per cent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sacks were a big problem, especially last season, when he was sacked 17 times in consecutive games, much of it because of a struggling offensive line. But critics said the quarterback sometimes had a tendency to hold on to the ball too long, or take off from the pocket too soon when under duress.

Last season, Kolb completed just under 60 per cent of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions but was sacked 27 times in six games.

Kevin Kolb (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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