The NFL's franchise tag window has officially closed. Several players around the league received franchise designations before the deadline passed. Impending free agent quarterback Sam Bradford was not one of them.
This news doesn't come as a surprise. It was reported weeks ago that the Philadelphia Eagles did not plan to tag Bradford. Doing so would have cost the Eagles $19.9 million (or $17.7 million if they used the less utilized transition tag) for the 2016 season. The Eagles clearly aren't comfortable paying Bradford that much money, and for good reason. Bradford didn't nearly prove to be a franchise caliber quarterback in 2015.
So ... what happens now? Well, with no tag in place, the Eagles can still sign Bradford to a contract extension. It's been reported the Eagles recently "upped their offer" in a "real push" to keep him. It remains to be seen if the interest is mutual. Bradford's agent, Tom Condon, drives a hard bargain. Just look at how the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin, who is also repped by Condon, last offseason.
The Eagles have until Monday, March 7 before Condon can start negotiating with other NFL teams during the legal tampering window. NFL free agency begins two days later on Wednesday, March 9 at 4:00 PM ET. If Bradford hits the market, he's free to sign with any team.
It's possible the Eagles could let Bradford test the market and bring him back if there's a weak market for his services. That way the Eagles could sign him at a team-friendly price. That plan could backfire, however, if there's a stronger market than expected. All it takes is one team to make a big offer and then the Eagles could be in danger of losing him. The San Francisco 49ers are a team to watch considering Colin Kaepernick could be on his way out and Chip Kelly really likes Bradford.
Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman have expressed interest in retaining Bradford. But they also said at the 2016 NFL Combine that there's a backup plan if they can't keep him. Such a contingency could involve the Eagles signing a placeholder like Chase Daniel or Nick Foles (if the Rams cut him). The Birds are also expected to take a quarterback at some point in the 2016 NFL Draft, whether Bradford is back or not.
It shouldn't take much longer to see how Philadelphia's quarterback situation plays out. Stay tuned.