The Philadelphia Eagles answered one of their biggest offseason questions by hiring Doug Pederson as head coach. Now one of the biggest questions remaining is: who will the quarterback be? Let's take a look at the options.
This is the logical place to start. Bradford was the team's starting quarterback in 2015. He struggled early on in the season but he played relatively well down the stretch. Before he was fired, Chip Kelly made it clear he wanted Bradford back in Philadelphia. Will Pederson feel the same way?
Bringing Bradford back won't be cheap. His next contract is projected to be worth over $18 million per year. He's scheduled to be a free agent and there will be multiple teams willing to sign him. The Houston Texans are a playoff team in need of an upgrade at quarterback. The San Francisco 49ers could make a run at Bradford now that Kelly is the head coach there. Even if the Eagles are willing to pay, there's no guarantee Bradford wants to be back in Philadelphia.
For as "well" as Bradford played down the stretch, there are still serious concerns about making him the long-term guy. The Eagles haven't seen him play well for them in a big sample size. His injury history is still concerning. For these reasons, perhaps franchising Bradford would be a viable option. It would cost a lot of cap space, yes, but it could be a better option than giving him a long-term contract. The tag would buy the Eagles one more look at Bradford.
Alternatively, the Eagles could try to trade Bradford on the tag. It's not the most realistic option, but it's happened before. The Chiefs traded a second round pick for Matt Cassel when New England franchised him. Maybe a team would be willing to do a similar deal for Bradford? Looking at you, Chip.
Then there's the possibility the Eagles just let Bradford walk in free agency. The Birds would save cap space and hope to pick up a compensatory draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in that case.
Assuming Bradford is gone, the Eagles are going to need a new veteran. And wouldn't it be funny if Doug Pederson signed his own version of Doug Pederson? That player would be none other than current Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel. The 29-year-old Daniel is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. Pederson could sell Daniel on the idea of getting a chance to be the starter in Philadelphia.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying Daniel is likely the Eagles' next franchise quarterback. Through six NFL seasons, he's only started two games. He's completed 64.9% of his passes for 464 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a 80.2 rating. The appeal is that he's an inexpensive placeholder who is familiar with Pederson's offense. In the best case scenario, he wins the Eagles' quarterback job and proves to be good starter. In the most realistic scenario, he starts some games and allows the team to groom a young quarterback behind him, similar to how Pederson started over Donovan McNabb in 1999.
The Eagles own the No. 13 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. That might be high enough for them to draft a quarterback. Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, and Carson Wentz could arguably be in play in the first round. Whether the Eagles keep Bradford or not, they absolutely need to address the quarterback position at some point in the draft.