The more I think about Sam Bradford's 2-year extension, the less sense it makes. Either he's a potential franchise quarterback, and deserved a long-term contract for substantial money, or he's not, in which case a short-term, low cost offer would have been the right move.
A low-ball offer would have risked losing him in free agency, though apparently there wasn't much interest in him at the NFL Combine, but if Bradford's never going to be the answer, who cares? Make do with Mark Sanchez or roll the dice with a draft pick.
The Eagles seemed undecided about whether Bradford was any good or not, and decided to split the difference: pay him a lot of money, but have an easy out, even after one year. The problem with that is that they could have just tagged him for $20 million, which is $2 million less than they'll pay if he's cut after a year.
Jimmy Kempski and I disagree about how good Bradford is -- he thinks not at all, I think there's definite franchise potential -- but his analysis of the contract makes perfect sense.
The only way this contract works is if the Eagles are able to draft their quarterback of the future -- with no pick better than #13 in the first round. If you're lucky you might get the least desired of the big three prospects (Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Paxton Lynch). More likely, you're pinning your hopes on Christian Hackenberg or Connor Cook in the middle of the third round -- if they're even available.
In that scenario, Sam is your bridge QB. He plays out the two years at $18M per year, which is kind of high but not terrible. Or if your rookie blossoms quickly, maybe even trade Sam next spring, eating $5.5 million of his cap from the signing bonus.
But that's putting a ton of hope on a longshot rookie. What if the new guy doesn't work out? Then it depends how good Sam is. Let's say Bradford is as bad as Jimmy thinks. You can cut him after one year! True, but you've paid $22 million for a year of bad quarterbacking.
And if Bradford tears his ACL mid-season, you'll owe another $4 million next year that's guaranteed for injury. So you've dropped $26 million for a half-year of a bad QB.
To be fair to Sam, though, he played tough all last year, taking a lot of sacks and even deliberate targeting of his knee. The two games he missed were for a shoulder separation that few quarterbacks would have played through (compare Tony Romo's collarbone, for example).
No, the biggest risk of all is if Bradford is as good as I think he might be. If he finally lives up to all the potential that made him a #1 overall pick and works magic in Doug Pederson's offense.
Because then, next year, he'll have just one year left before he can become a free agent and get yet another big payday. That's the same situation he was in last year, when he decided to play out his contract and gamble for more money.
Worse yet, as Kempski points out, the Eagles will have no leverage in negotiations for an extension because they'll face a $23.5 million cap hit if Sam plays out his second year. They'll be desperate to make a deal, and Sam knows it.
However his playing career turns out, Bradford has a bright future ahead as an agent for other players. No one has made more money off a marginal career (and I don't begrudge any player getting every penny they can). Frankly I'm surprised there aren't more ex-player agents.
As David Steele of the Sporting News put it:
Sam Bradford doesn't win a lot, but when he does, it's at the negotiation table. https://t.co/JREo0jNr3B pic.twitter.com/oXnFBJ1Eqi— Sporting News (@sportingnews) March 2, 2016