Of all the moves Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly made this offseason, (and there were many) the one that still perplexes fans the most is the Sam Bradford trade.
It was apparent early on that Nick Foles was not going to be “the guy” for too much longer. He seemed very adept at running Kelly’s offense, but the coach never seemed entirely comfortable with Foles in that role. So, while it was obvious a trade was coming at some point, no one thought that it would be for someone like Sam Bradford, a quarterback with “damaged goods” written all over him.
Kelly traded away Foles, a quarterback who in 2013 had a completion percentage of 64 percent, threw for 27 touchdowns and finished the season with a passer rating of 119.2 for Bradford, a quarterback who is best known for only playing in seven games over the past two seasons. He has torn the ACL in the same knee twice and has career numbers that leave a lot to be desired for a player who was named AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Add in the fact that Bradford is in the final year of his contract and that talks with the Eagles about an extension have been pretty unproductive up to this point and it becomes fairly obvious that the 27-year-old out of Oklahoma has a tremendous amount riding on the upcoming NFL season.
And it isn’t even clear right now if Bradford is going to be the starting QB come the season opener.
Due to the ACL injury, Bradford has yet to be a full participant in Eagles practice and that doesn’t look to be changing when training camp starts on August 2. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez has been preparing like he already has the starting job, working with Eagles’ receivers in San Diego this offseason. Which means that Bradford, whenever he does suit up and starts calling the plays, will have a pretty steep learning curve to overcome.
Then there is the contract issue. Bradford will make almost $13 million this season, which is part of the reason the St. Louis Rams were so willing to part ways with him. They wanted Bradford to take a pay cut, which isn’t that unreasonable considering his injury history, 18-30-1 record as starting quarterback and a career 79.3 passer rating. Bradford refused, feeling that as a former No. 1 draft pick he should be paid in a fashion similar to the elite quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL.
First, for Bradford to think he should be paid like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees is a joke in and of itself. He hasn’t come close to winning anything and all he has proven up until now is that he has a really bad ACL in his knee. For the Eagles to even think about paying him anything close to those kinds of numbers, Bradford will have to prove he can stay healthy, start 16 games and lead the team to a playoff appearance.
Not too hard, right?
Bradford has a single NFL season to try to reinvent himself and his career. He needs to show not only the Eagles fans here in Philly but the doubters in the rest of the country that he can be that player so many thought would be the next Dan Marino. He has 16 games to show why he is worthy of the Eagles opening their checkbook and making a commitment to him for the long haul. He has only a couple of months to demonstrate that Kelly didn’t make the biggest mistake of his coaching career taking a chance on Bradford and sending Foles to St. Louis.
For Sam Bradford the clock is ticking. What happens next could make or break this Eagles franchise for years to come.