To trade or not to trade?

Bengals QB Carson Palmer

With players like Eagles QB Kevin Kolb and Bengals QB Carson Palmer seemingly available via trade, the draft would appear to be only one of the ways a team could find a starting quarterback. With the Jaguars on the prowl for a future franchise quarterback of their own, the question as to whether or not the Jaguars would potentially be interested in one of these quarterbacks is only natural.

The most important thing to figure out before any fan can get behind one of these trades, though, is how much a given player is going to cost their team to acquire. Then it must be determined that the player acquired through a trade has more value than the player the team could have potentially drafted with the draft pick they traded away. Consider these quotes from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback yesterday:

“…Andy Reid apparently is serious about trading Kevin Kolb. At the NFL meetings Sunday, a good source told me Reid already has one team willing to offer a first-round pick for Kolb, and now he’s looking for a team with a higher choice in the round to make him a better deal….”

” …Marvin Lewis is acknowledging to people he knows in football that Palmer won’t be back in Cincinnati, and the Bengals are looking into all of the top quarterback prospects. ‘Marvin knows how stubborn Carson is, and he thinks no matter what happens, the guy won’t change his mind,’ said one club executive… “

It looks very possible that both of these quarterbacks are on the trade market; so do they make sense for the Jaguars or is this the annual clammor for a big-name player among illogical fans?

In my opinion…neither.

The way I evaluate this trade is by comparing Palmer and Kolb to the player(s) that the Jaguars would have to pass on in order to acquire them. Considering the Jaguars would likely have to give up a first round pick, or a second round pick at the least, in order to acquire Palmer or Kolb, the player I point to for comparison’s sake is Christian Ponder.

Ponder’s draft stock as of today, just over five weeks from draft day, appears to be in the late first round or early second round. By trading away a draft pick in this range, I believe the Jaguars would essentially be choosing Palmer or Kolb over Ponder or Kaepernick.

By acquiring Kolb or Palmer, the Jaguars would be inheriting a quarterback with NFL starting experience and knowledge of the game already. The 2011 season would be much less about coaching up a young prospect and much more about creating an offense for a pre-established quarterback. But from a long-term perspective would the Jaguars benefit from acquiring a 26 year-old player that was deemed not good enough by Andy Reid or a 31 year-old player that never fully recovered from a shredded knee? I think not.

Perhaps I’m a tad idealistic, but I want whoever the Jaguars get as their starting quarterback for the next era in Jacksonville to be great. Not good enough to win with, or even win in the playoffs, but a truly great player that carries a team on their back. There are only a handful guys that are there in the NFL today. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees would be the four that qualify in my mind. To expect the Jaguars to find a guy that good is probably unfair, so I don’t expect it. But I have my fingers crossed and I’m hoping for it. That’s certainly fair.

By acquiring Palmer or Kolb, the Jaguars are giving up on finding potential greatness and showing to me that they are ok with finding the satisfactory. Is this the annual clammor I talked about earlier? No, I don’t think it is, because these are not unrealistic players for the Jaguars to pursue. A 26 year old quarterback with plenty of potential and a two time Pro Bowler who’s team desperately doesn’t want to leave are a couple of players that the Jaguars could do a whole lot worse than. But I want great.