Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Heading in to unrestricted free agency, the opportunities for retread quarterbacks were few and far between to get a chance to play in 2013.
Most would have to ultimately settle for at least a competition, or at worst a likely backup job somewhere. That's why, when the Buffalo Bills came knocking, former Cardinals and Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb opened the door.
Kolb has only 21 starts over the course of his six-year career. Always thought to have the potential in Philadelphia, he lacked the opportunities to secure that job long-term. Then moved to Arizona for a high price Kolb fell flat with the Cardinals, both proverbially and literally.
Kolb lost the starting job outright ahead of the 2012 season to John Skelton, and found himself hitting the turf at an alarmingly high rate because of Arizona's porous offensive line. The hits -- 57 sacks in 14 total starts -- led the quarterback to get hit with the injury bug.
Behind a solid offensive line, perhaps Kolb might be better. Or, maybe he's just the same guy he always has been. Either way, there's one question Bills fans really want to know.
Will Kolb prevent the Bills from finally taking a young quarterback for the future of the franchise?
While head coach Doug Marrone isn't the General Manager of the team, he was asked that exact question Monday.
"I don't think it really is gonna change the philosophy on the draft," he said, cleverly side-stepping the obvious quarterback overtones. "I think that if when the position comes, whatever is best for our team to get better, I think we'll go ahead and choose that player wherever it may be. I think that rather than -- and I don't want speak for Buddy or anyone else in the organization -- but rather than trying to reach or going somewhere that you want to go, you bring in the best players you can bring in and you make those guys compete and you're a better football team."
There are a few different ways you can interpret this:
First, and definitely the least fun for fans trying to read the tea leaves, you could just chalk it up to normal coach-speak that comes when you're just over two weeks away from the draft.
Second, you could look at that quote and say, "Well, Kolb is just a guy. So thank goodness that this doesn't change anything! Quarterback here we come!"
Or third, you could argue by that quote that perhaps they never entertained the idea of drafting a quarterback in the first round in the first place.
To me, I subscribe to theory number one, with a hint and a trace of the third option. To sit in front of the media and deliver your honest intentions this close to one of the biggest poker games going would be downright foolish. Marrone is too smart of a man to make that mistake.
However, there is a key word in that quote. It's a term that is especially pertinent come draft season: the concept of a "reach."
The quarterback group, on the whole, has been lacking to a lot of people that break down the prospects' strengths and weaknesses. Without a single option that seems to be a home run in this year's crop, some quarterback needy teams have gone to find the best stop-gap solutions just in case.
When Buddy Nix declared Kevin Kolb to be a "strong candidate" for the starting job, it was less of a declaration of trust in him for the job, and more of an indictment on this NFL Draft quarterback class of 2013.
Does that mean there isn't a potential franchise guy in this year's draft? Not in the slightest. But it does mean that perhaps the Bills would be best suited to take the best player available at the eighth overall pick, trade back or to trade back in to the tail end of the first round to get their guy.
Of course there is the argument that when it comes to selecting a quarterback in the draft, if you have a guy you like, you take him without worrying about the "reach" notion. I tend to agree with those sentiments, but with the turnover for NFL coaches and front offices being as high as it is, you have to hit on your first round picks to survive -- especially on quarterbacks.
With all that said, are the Bills really going to pass on drafting a quarterback with their original pick one more time? It all depends on how these players fit on to their board.
While I wouldn't read too far in to Marrone using the word "reach" when he was asked about drafting quarterbacks, I wouldn't exactly dismiss it either.
To this point, the Bills are one of the toughest to predict as to what they'll do on April 25. The one thing that is clear, though, is that Kevin Kolb isn't muddying the waters for their draft day intent.
Perhaps it just wasn't as open-and-shut of a case as it was first perceived. While I still think the arrows are pointing in the direction of taking a quarterback at some point in the first two rounds, I've always held strong that I wasn't convinced the Bills were hellbent on selecting that player early in this year's draft.
They've been hellbent in doing everything in their power to know everything they can about the quarterbacks in this year's draft. That much is for sure.
However, if they indeed pass on one in the first round and can't maneuver back up the board to take their guy (if they have a preferred player), it could be another year of waiting for a first or second round quarterback. Instead, sitting at 41 with no Barkley, Nassib or whoever else they may be interested in on the board, Nix and the Bills may do what they've done the past three off-seasons: wait until the value meets their needs.