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Even the Eagles Aren't Completely Sold on Sam Bradford
If you think that the Philadelphia Eagles signed Sam Bradford to be their franchise quarterback on Tuesday night, then you aren't paying attention.
The Eagles gave Bradford a two-year contract worth up to $40 million, with $26 million guaranteed. While that sounds like an awful lot of money, it really isn't. The fact that Bradford's agent, Tom Condon, settled for a two-year deal proves that there wasn't much of market for the quarterback's services.
Franchise QBs sign long-term contracts with more than $40 million guaranteed. They don't settle for two-year deals, no matter how much money they pay. And the reality of this contract is that it is a two-year, $36 million deal, with an additional $4 million tied into the Eagles making the playoffs. The franchise tag amount is $19.953 million and the transition tag amount is $17.696 million this season. Bradford got somewhere in the middle of those two amounts, which is more than his average-to-good career statistics prove he is worth. But those two short years on the deal should prove to everyone that he isn't the answer for the Eagles or any other NFL team looking for their franchise QB.
Bradford, 28, is coming off yet another season where he was unable to play all 16 games. Yes, his twice surgically repaired knee that cost him most of the previous two seasons, held up, but the guy is always hurt. That is one reason the Eagles were reluctant to sign Bradford to a long-term deal. The other reason is that he isn't a great QB.
Bradford played 14 games last season in Chip Kelly's gimmicky college offense. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,725 yards, 19 TDs and 14 INTs. Those numbers are the very definition of average-to-good. Not great. Not championship-caliber. But the one thing you can point to is that Bradford clearly got better as the season wore on.
Whether that was due to the fact that he got more comfortable in a new offense or that he got more comfortable in the pocket after missing so much time with the knee injuries, he was definitely better after a rough start to the season. In the first 9 games of the season, Bradford threw 11 TDs and 11 INTs. After he missed 2 games with a concussion and shoulder injury, he threw 8 TDs and only 4 INTs in the last 5 games of the season. Those are still not franchise quarterback numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he showed improvement.
Of course, it speaks volumes that Condon was willing to pass on free agency and settle for a measly two-year contract. That proves that there simply was no market for Bradford among the other teams looking for a QB. Teams are allowed to talk to agents during the scouting combine, so Condon knew the Eagles were his best bet to get a deal. I assumed that the Houston Texans were a logical suitor for Bradford, since they have a dominating defense and used four less-than-average QBs last season. Apparently, Houston head coach Bill O'Brien has other plans. Or maybe he just realizes that Bradford has never made the playoffs during his six-years in the NFL.
Should the Eagles have resigned Sam Bradford
So why did the Eagles sign Bradford to such a short term deal?
Personally I believe it shows that they will be drafting their real franchise QB in the upcoming draft. Well, at least they hope they can find their next franchise QB.
I don't pretend to be a draft expert and I don't watch a ton of college football, but I do my research on the draft prospects. The consensus is that the top two QBs, Carson Wentz of North Dakota State and Jared Goff of Cal will be long gone by the time the Eagles pick at #13. How do you like that meaningless Week 17 win over the Giants now? The next name on most QB draft boards is Paxton Lynch from Memphis. Personally, I'll pass on a guy who has never taken a snap from under center in his life and needs a lot of work on every aspect of his game. Eagles fans know Penn State's Christian Hackenberg, who had an up and down college career and might just be going to Houston for a reunion with O'Brien. He also might be drafted in the 2nd round and the Eagles don't have a 2nd round pick thanks to that horrible trade Chip Kelly made for Bradford.
I read that Michigan State's Connor Cook looked terrible at the Combine, for whatever that's worth. And although I can't say I've ever seen a single one of his throws, NFL Hall of Fame writer, Ray Didinger thinks that the Eagles should draft Mississippi State's Dak Prescott. That's a good enough endorsement for me and he might just still be on the board when the Eagles finally get to pick in the 3rd round.
Whoever they draft, and they most certainly will get a QB at some point in the upcoming draft, that guy will hold a clipboard on the sideline his entire rookie season and learn. New head coach Doug Pederson has already said that he thinks that's the best way to groom a young QB. Personally, I don't agree, but I didn't work for Andy Reid last season, so I didn't have a chance to get the Eagles head coaching job from Jeffrey Lurie.
I would have preferred that the Eagles let Bradford go and basically tank next season. Yes, I know that's a touchy subject in the city of Philadelphia, but it would be for the best. It's not like the Eagles are winning anything with Bradford anyway. He's never even played in a playoff game, remember? Starting Mark Sanchez at QB would have guaranteed a losing season and led to a high draft pick next year.
Now before I'm accused of "not being a real fan", ask yourself one simple question. If the Eagles thought that Sam Bradford was the quarterback to take them to that long-elusive Super Bowl Championship, why did they only commit to him for two short years?
The answer is that Bradford isn't the answer. He isn't a Super Bowl QB. Hell, he has shown that he isn't even a playoff QB. Literally.
Bradford was just signed as a bridge to the next quarterback. A guy to keep the seat warm while the young QB is groomed, just like Doug Pederson did for Donovan McNabb all those years ago. Of course, we have no idea who that young QB will be or if he'll even be as average-to-good as Bradford. But we do know for sure that Sam Bradford isn't the long-term solution to the Eagles quest to find their next franchise quarterback. The contract he just singed proves that.