This was a move long in the works. The Eagles eyed Rams quarterback
A former No. 1 overall draft pick (2010), Bradford's NFL career has been stunted by a lack of offensive talent around him early in his St. Louis tenure and by injuries late with the Rams. He played only seven games in 2013 after being pulled down on a run to the sidelines and tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and then missed all of 2014 when he was drilled in the pocket and tore the same ACL in the preseason opener.
An extremely talented quarterback who is 6-4 and 224 pounds, Bradford is able to make every throw from every position on the field. When the Eagles studied him -- and they did so very, very extensively before the trade -- they saw a quarterback with special accuracy, with touch, with a big arm. A quarterback who can get the ball out quickly, who can make fast, good decisions. Bradford is, the Eagles think, a classic pocket quarterback with just enough mobility to work the pocket well and keep plays alive.
And so a deal was done on Tuesday, one that brings to Philadelphia the quarterback that head coach Chip Kelly wants. He wanted Sam Bradford. He identified Sam Bradford as a special talent who can make this offense soar. It cost the Eagles Foles, and everyone wishes him the best of luck. It cost the Eagles a second-round draft pick in 2016 and a swap of picks in 2015 that is a difference of, roughly, 20 spots in the draft after compensatory picks are considered.
It is a gamble, no question about that. Kelly isn't afraid to make difficult, out-of-the-box decisions. But it is a gamble with a lot of upside because the Eagles think Bradford has the goods to be a franchise-type quarterback.
The misconception, perhaps, is that the offense the Eagles is one that we saw at Oregon, where the quarterback was mobile and a running threat. That's not what the Eagles are offensively. The Eagles can run the football effectively with their running backs -- and there is a need there that will be filled -- and their blocking scheme, and they need a quarterback who can be accurate, who can play tempo football and who can get the ball to the receivers -- a need position that the Eagles will address -- in a timely fashion down the field and in the short passing game.
And they had Bradford. And they pinned all of their hopes on him and just didn't give him much help as he absorbed 105 sacks in his first three seasons (42 games) and another 15 in the seven games he played in 2013 when Bradford threw 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions. Oh, and consider this: Bradford has five games (of 49 played) in which he has thrown multiple interceptions. Foles and
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's input was critical as well. He's extremely high on Bradford, having been the offensive coordinator in St. Louis for Bradford's rookie season. In that year, Bradford set NFL rookie records for completions (354) and attempts (590), while his 3,512 passing yards were second to only Peyton Manning’s 3,739 in 1998. During a midseason stretch, Bradford set an NFL rookie record with 174 consecutive attempts without an interception. At the conclusion of the season, Bradford earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
That's the player the Eagles think they have acquired, a special talent with far more upside than they saw with Foles -- and no lack of respect for him. He was very productive here and everyone wishes Foles the best of luck in St. Louis -- or any other quarterback they saw in the market -- free agency or the draft. The Eagles, despite the overwhelming rush by the media and fans to think otherwise, were not going to move up, up, up in the draft and take Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner whom Kelly recruited. Nor did the Eagles feel their best option was to stay put and stick with Foles and extend his contract for the future.
Certainly, the deal hinges on Bradford remaining healthy and staying on the field for this offense. He had a concussion and some shoulder injuries at Oklahoma. He has the two ACL injuries and a shoulder injury in the NFL. Only twice in his five seasons has Bradford played a full 16 games.
The Eagles believe in their sports science program and their strength and conditioning program and they have the plan to put the right pieces around Bradford to help him stay healthy and make him more productive than he's been in his career.
That's why the Eagles did the deal, one on which they worked extremely hard and one that was, according to reports, off and on a couple of times -- at least -- in the last few weeks. They got the quarterback they wanted, one they think can be special in this offense. You may like the deal. You may not. You may have questions that just don't have answers right now, specifically how the Eagles will replace the production from departed running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver
Wins and losses will dictate the wisdom of this decision. It was gutsy, no doubt about it. But being gutsy and having conviction is why Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie hired Kelly after the 2012 4-12 season. Twenty regular-season victories and a playoff appearance was a nice way to start Kelly's NFL head coaching career, but it wasn't the goal. Winning the whole thing is the objective, and the Eagles wanted the best quarterback they could get and Kelly wanted Bradford and then went out and made the deal.
Sam Bradford is the quarterback Kelly thinks can operate this offense to maximum efficiency. That's why he is an Eagle today.