The Eagles find themselves in a position of negotiating strength during lockout

Eagles fans generally view the current lockout as an incredibly annoying roadblock to being able to trade Kevin Kolb.  As we should all know by now, NFL teams are not allowed to trade players or sign any free agents during the lockout, and there's virtually no chance for either of the two to occur at least until there's a resolution to the players' antitrust lawsuit against the NFL beginning on April 6th.  However, in the meantime, they are allowed to discuss compensation with other NFL franchises.  I don't want to spend a ton of time on the boring stuff, so if you want to read up on the April 6th hearing, you can do so here.

This period of inactivity has provided the Eagles with the opportunity to get the absolute maximum value for Kevin Kolb, for several reasons:

1)      "Take it or leave it" is not an option: During a traditional offseason, let's pretend for a minute that you're a team that's interested in Kolb, and you've made what you feel is a fair offer to the Eagles for his services.  Would you be inclined to sit idly by while the Eagles put your offer in their back pocket and shop around for something better, all while other teams may be going after your "Plan B" or "Plan C?"  That's not exactly ideal.  The biggest negotiating weapon for a team trying to trade for a player is "take it or leave it," as in "This is our final offer. We either make this trade, or we're moving along without you."  With the lockout negating any and all player movement, the Eagles can't consummate a deal, and can therefore simply sit back and ask for potential trade partners' best deals with no fear of them walking away.  The teams looking to deal for Kolb can't pressure the Eagles into making a deal on their terms.  By the time trades are permitted, the Eagles will already have all their offers lined up like ducks in a row, and can choose which one suits them best. 

2)      Teams can speak with the Eagles about Kolb, but cannot speak with free agent QB's: It's not like there's a lot of appealing free agent QB options out there anyway (there rarely ever are), but it's worth mentioning that even for the ones that are free agents, contact with them is forbidden.  The only QB that's set to become a free agent that's appealing in the slightest is Matt Hasselbeck, depending on your definition of "appealing."  Hasselbeck hasn't thrown for more TD's than INT's in a season since 2007.  The other free agent QB's getting the most mentions are guys like Marc Bulger and Troy Smith, who are certainly nothing more than placeholders until a real franchise QB can be found.  Nevertheless, QB needy teams cannot speak with any players/agents without running the risk of incurring tampering charges.

3)      The other trade options aren't ideal: In the same way that teams can talk to the Eagles about Kevin Kolb, they can also talk to other teams like the Bengals, Redskins, or Broncos about their various QB's that may be available in a trade.  Wanna trade for Donovan McNabb? McNabb may or may not have some good football left in the tank, but trading for him means you're picking up the awful 6-year, $89.2 million contract extension he signed in November.   Wanna trade for Carson Palmer?  You're going to have to put together a package good enough to convince pig-headed Bengals owner Mike Brown to move away from his philosophy of never giving into trade demands.  Brown is willing to forego draft picks to prove to his players that he won't be pushed around, and Palmer's retirement is reportedly the most likely option.  Even if you are interested in trading more for Palmer than what he's worth, you better be ready to also pay (or rather overpay) his $11.5 million salary in 2011.  Wanna trade for Kyle Orton?  I'll concede that he's a decent NFL QB, but at 28 years of age (he'll turn 29 during the 2012 season) with 62 career starts under his belt, it's pretty safe to say that we pretty much know what Orton's ceiling is, and it's not particularly high.

We've been hearing an abnormal number of reports of teams interested in Kolb (including a report that at least one team is prepared to send a first round pick the Eagles' way).  Among the teams reported to have interest are the Cardinals, Vikings, Seahawks, 49ers, and others.  The reason for that is extremely simple: At this stage in the offseason, Kolb is really the only QB currently worth seriously discussing, and with 14 or so teams in need of a franchise QB, the Eagles have an enormous advantage in leveraging the maximum value for his services.  This period of non-activity only helps the Eagles by keeping all potential trading partners where the Eagles can see them.

Most of this is moot, of course, if a labor resolution doesn't occur before the draft, in which case:

-          Draft picks in 2011 will not be included in any deal.

-          Formerly interested teams that drafted a QB early in the draft will no longer have interest in trading for Kolb.  However, teams that did not land a QB in the draft will be more desperate for a player like Kolb, and possibly willing to give up a healthier package of future draft picks.

-          The negotiations will begin anew with 2012 draft picks offered instead.

But for now, the Eagles hold all the cards, and if you want to eventually deal for Kevin Kolb, you have no choice but to play by the Eagles' rules.

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