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We Must Trust In Chip With QB Trade


It's been a mad and wild ride already – and free agency has just started. The Eagles made the trade, which also included sending a 2015 fourth-round pick and a 2016 second-round selection to the Rams in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round draft choice - official hours later - as fans and the media poked and prodded for answers for a trade that came out of the blue.

The Eagles now have Bradford in at quarterback and he and perhaps Mark Sanchez (who reportedly has agreed to contract terms, but nothing is yet official) will compete for playing time. Bradford has been an outstanding quarterback when healthy - Bradford tossed 14 touchdowns and had four interceptions in the seven games he played in 2013 - but the problem is that he hasn't been healthy the last two seasons. Two torn ACL tendons have curtailed Bradford's last couple of seasons – he missed all of 2014 with a knee injury and he played only seven games the year before – after St. Louis made him the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. Bradford is in the final year of his contract, so the Eagles will have to make the decision on him for the future.

That's down the line, though. The move is a shocker in the sense that most of the speculation - outside the organization - before Tuesday was that if the Eagles were to move Foles it would be to move up in the draft and get in position to select Oregon's Marcus Mariota. That isn't likely to happen with Bradford in and Sanchez re-signed.

This move is about trusting that head coach Chip Kelly sees something in Bradford, something special, and that he believes that with the team's strength and conditioning program and a change of scenery and an offense that fits his style, Bradford's abilities can shine. Kelly knows what he wants in a quarterback and he believes that Bradford can be a major factor in an offense that has set records in successive seasons in points scored.

He clearly likes Bradford and thinks his skill set fits into the offense. The idea that Kelly needs a quarterback who can move and run the read-option isn't the case here, because Bradford isn't running 60 yards for a touchdown anytime soon. How that lack of mobility outside the pocket impacts the structure of the offense remains to be seen.

On Tuesday, the Eagles acquired QB Sam Bradford from the St. Louis Rams. Here are 15 facts about the newest Eagles quarterback ...

Bradford reunites with Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who was in the same position in St. Louis in 2010 when Bradford was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year and that no doubt played into the equation. Bradford is a supremely talented quarterback who hasn't been able to develop as the Rams built around him in the early years – he absorbed 34 sacks as a rookie, 36 in 2011 and 35 in 2012 without a lot of talent around him – and then the injuries took two seasons away from his progress.

Bradford was injured in the opener of last summer's preseason game for the Rams when Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant rolled into Bradford's left knee.

But Bradford stands tall in the pocket and spins it like few quarterbacks can. The challenge for him, of course, has been the health issue. Is he suddenly able to stay healthy? Can the Eagles build around him so that Bradford can get the ball out quickly and not take big hits? How does the offense change with Bradford/Sanchez running the show?

The quarterback-for-quarterback trade – as unusual as any in the NFL and only the 2009 deal that sent Jay Cutler to Chicago and Kyle Orton and draft picks to Denver and the 2004 trade that sent Eli Manning to New York and Philip Rivers and draft picks to San Diego come to mind – brings to Philadelphia a player who has all the talent in the world.

There are more questions with the offense. Leading rusher LeSean McCoy was officially traded on Tuesday to Buffalo. Leading wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is reportedly on his way to sign a free-agent contract in Kansas City.

Who will Bradford (or Sanchez) throw the ball to? Who is running the football? Legitimate questions and it all goes back to trusting that Chip Kelly, with 20 wins in his first two NFL seasons, will have the answers.

The acquisition of Bradford was one of two announced on Tuesday. 

• The acquisition of linebacker Kiko Alonso from Buffalo in exchange for McCoy became official. McCoy, the all-time leading rusher in franchise history, certainly made his mark here. The Eagles think they can replace his production and that they can make use of his salary cap number to acquire some talent for the current roster. Alonso missed 2014 with a knee injury, but he was an outstanding inside linebacker for Buffalo in his rookie season of 2013. Alonso played for Kelly at Oregon and enjoyed a stellar rookie campaign before his knee injury. He toured the NovaCare Complex on Monday and passed his physical and says that he will be ready for Training Camp.

• Keep in mind that this is the start of free agency and that the Eagles will make other moves. They have other needs.

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