Bleacher Report NFL insider Jason Cole revealed an interesting tidbit in a recent video report. According to Cole, there are NFL teams at the top of the 2015 NFL draft order that aren't very interested in either quarterbacks Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. Full quote here:
"This is really fascinating because there are teams that are sitting at the top of the draft, according to executives that I’ve talked to, who would believe that they would prefer to have Sam Bradford, who’s 27 and coming off basically missing the last year and a half of his career — that they would rather have then take a chance on, say, somebody like Marcus Mariota or Jamies Winston because they have seen what Bradford can do. One caveat to this is: is Bradford healthy or not coming off of two ACL surgeries? But the belief is: take a shot with Bradford and save your first round draft pick and take somebody else."
If true, this is pretty interesting. Bradford obviously hasn't panned out the way the Rams hoped he would when they picked him No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Bradford has struggled to stay healthy. He's a 58.6% career passer who has thrown 6.3 yards per attempt, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions in 49 games started. Bradford will enter 2015 on the last year of his bloated rookie contract. The Rams are reportedly trying to restructure Bradford's contract, but the team can release him to save nearly $13 million in cap space by cutting him. It doesn't seem impossible that he could spring loose. If that's the case and he hits the market, Bradford will automatically be one of the best options in a weak free agent QB class.
So, given the nature of this blog, how does a Bradford release potentially impact the Eagles? Some thoughts:
• Maybe this makes the idea of the Eagles trading up for Marcus Mariota, which they are reportedly "going to try" to do, more realistic. Maybe the teams at the top of the draft aren't really solid on the top rookie quarterbacks and would rather have a "proven" option. Considering Lovie Smith (Buccaneers) and Ken Whisenhunt (Titans) are both veteran coaches who could want to "win now" as opposed to suffering through the growing pains of a more long-term build, this could make some sense. By signing Bradford and making a trade with the Eagles, a team could address their QB position while acquiring a bounty of picks (and/or players) in the process.
• Alternatively, if the teams at the top keep their picks and don't take quarterbacks, it could cause Mariota to fall in the draft order. Some have already suggested the possibility of a draft day slide for Mariota.
• If the Rams are getting rid of Bradford, though, then who is their quarterback going to be? They've seen enough of Shaun Hill and Austin Davis to know they're not answers. Hill is going to be a free agent anyway while Davis is a restricted free agent. If the Rams get rid of Bradford, they'd likely be in the market for drafting quarterback...
• ...or perhaps trading for one. 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.
• Or how about this possibility: what if the Eagles would be interested in Bradford? There are already rumors about the Eagles being interested in a reclamation project like Jake Locker. Bradford would be a more intriguing option, and it's worth pointing out the connection he has with current Eagles and former Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Then again, Bradford would likely have a better chance to earn playing time elsewhere if the Eagles are still truly committed to Foles as the starter.
OK, so there is a lot of hypothetical involved here. The Rams could just keep Bradford and all of my conjecture could be for naught. But if he does get released, it could have an interesting impact around the league. At the very least, it's a situation to keep an eye on.