Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, and landed one of the richest rookie contracts ever when he was selected number one overall by the Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft. Still, risks have defined Bradford’s football career thus far. Negative risks, to be exact.
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Bradford won the Heisman Trophy in his Sophomore year in college, and could have left after that season to enter the NFL Draft. While Matt Stafford may have been drafted over Bradford in the 2009 Draft, Bradford likely would have still been a top five pick considering Mark Sanchez flew up draft boards after a great Rose Bowl performance to the point where he was a top five selection. Instead, Bradford came back eyeing a national title run, before eventually sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury.
Bradford would eventually still be taken number one by the Rams, this time with the Rams taking what has turned out to be a negative risk. While Bradford threw for over 3,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in his rookie year, winning the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year (ironically under Pat Shurmur), injuries and a rookie contract signed a year before the implementation of a rookie salary cap, have debilitated a Rams team that seems a Quarterback away from being a very good team.
Now both the Rams and Bradford will be forced to take some risks this off-season. Bradford, now 27, is scheduled to make just under $13 million next year, in what is the final season of his rookie season. Being that Bradford played just seven games in 2013 and missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL, he isn’t coming back to the Rams at that price. But does it make sense for either side to attempt to restructure his deal, and try one more time to put it all together?
That question is more rhetorical than anything. Frankly, from a Philly perspective, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that if Bradford doesn’t return to the Rams, some teams will consider him instead of potential draft options. In the video below, Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reports that if Bradford becomes a free-agent, the trickle down effect could be that one of/both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota fall in the draft.
Last week, I broke down the idea of Jameis Winston falling to the Eagles range because of character concerns. While I conceded that was extremely unlikely, it was a scenario worth considering. Obviously, if Marcus Mariota falls to the 8-12 range because of teams drafting highly electing to look at other options, Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz seem likely to do all in their power to trade for him.
And as Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton writes, if the Rams release Bradford, the Eagles end up drafting a Quarterback and the Rams don’t take what they deem to be a franchise Quarterback in the first-round, things could come full circle.
"Remember those recent rumors about St. Louis being interested in Nick Foles? If the Rams release Bradford and acquire Foles in a trade, the Eagles would receive some kind of bounty in return. The Eagles could then use those assets in order to help complete their trade up for Mariota. It all adds up! Or maybe the Rams would just try to get Mariota or Winston."
From the Rams perspective, Foles is only due $660,000 next year, in the final year of his rookie deal. Clearly, he will get a substantial raise in 2016, but if they may be more interested in taking a flyer on Foles–who doesn’t struggle to stay healthy as much as Bradford–than keeping Bradford at his aforementioned price.
As Gowton also points out, the Rams could release Bradford, and take either Winston or Mariota at 10. That said, if they decide to pull the plug on Bradford this off-season, they may not want to start over with a rookie Quarterback, even if it could potentially be more beneficial to them in the long run. And out of any potentially available Quarterbacks, Foles is the most impressive and we already know that at least to some extent, they covet him.
Perhaps (probably), we will look back at the idea of everything falling this much in the Eagles favor as a complete reach. But it’s draft season, and hypotheticals that have some sort of traction sure are fun to talk about around this type of year.