Each week every so often Dave and Patrick discuss the week that was. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Patrick: After a quiet few weeks, we finally have news. The Eagles have signed Sam Bradford to a two-year, $26 million contract. Now that we have all the reported details of the contract, what do you think? You and I were pretty unimpressed by Bradford all season, so I'm guessing you're not the biggest fan of this deal.
Dave: My initial thoughts were [censored].
Now that I've had some time to think about it, I still hate it, and the praise for the Eagles is unwarranted. Bradford for $12.5M in 2016, fine, whatever. But what about past 2016? There doesn't seem to be a plan. Let's say they draft a QB this year and he's the 2017 starter. In 2017, Bradford is going to cost $5.5M in dead money after offsets, which is quite a lot. And if they don't draft a QB, then Bradford will cost $23.5M in 2017, which means they'll probably work out an extension and we're having the same conversations again that we had for the past two months, and we get Bradford for even more years. They're painting themselves into a corner.
Yes, he's the best veteran QB available and he gives them a better chance to win the NFC East than any of the other free agent QBs, but neither of which is saying much. Anyone want to argue that Washington is in a good position this offseason?
Patrick: Interestingly, I see a different picture. You kind of have to throw dollar amounts out the window for this conversation, and instead look at it relative to the rest of the league. Bradford is making almost exactly league average, both as far as contract value and guarantees go. He's being paid the 15th-highest, and his guarantee ranks him 16th in the league - just ahead of former number one overall pick Jameis Winston. Yes, they're paying him a little more than the franchise tag, but that's what happens in a negotiation. If the Eagles just wanted him on a one-year loaner deal, they would've just franchised him. To me this signifies that they expect him to start next year, and maybe even in 2017. Most importantly, it sets them up to not need a quarterback out of this draft. What happens if QB panic sets in and all four first round guys are gone before the Eagles pick? Or what if this is all a smokescreen and they don't actually want to draft a rookie at all?
To me, this is as close to the best case as you could reasonably expect in a negotiation. They can draft someone at 13, let them "compete" over the summer, then let Bradford start. If the rook's ready during the year and Bradford stumbles, start the young guy. Otherwise, go into 2017 with a camp competition, and maybe you can trade Bradford. Or they can cut their losses in 2017 for $9.5 million, which goes down to $5.5 million if he signs elsewhere.
And who knows - maybe he'll actually be... good?
Dave: If this front office thinks Sam Bradford is the answer of any kind and not a placeholder... I just threw up in my mouth.... then it's going to be a long, frustrating two+ years and everyone should just be fired now to get it over with. Sam Bradford has never been good and has no potential. He'll turn 29 during the season, he's started 63 games, he is what he is: a mediocre quarterback who can't stay healthy. He's not going to suddenly become good in 2016.
If they see him as a placeholder, they should have let him walk and signed Chase Daniel, who's certainly much cheaper, and probably not much worse. They're already trying to recreate the Andy Reid era, why not go that route too and make him Doug Pederson's Doug Pederson?
It's possible that none of the QBs that will be available to the Eagles at 13 will be any good. I get that, and I'd rather they don't reach for some crappy QB too. But at this point it looks unlikely that one won't be there. But I can't trust Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson to evaluate QBs at all. Pederson has no experience to go off. Roseman has failed repeatedly: in 2012 he passed on Russell Wilson three times and wound up with Nick Foles, in 2014 he passed on Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr twice, thinking Nick Foles 2013 season was the real deal. I can't trust that he will do the right thing in May.
Patrick: Okay, well there's a lot to unpack here. And for the first time, maybe ever, I disagree with almost all of it.
If the team really felt like Bradford was The Guy, he'd be on a longer-term deal. Period. I think the front office wants to see what he can do in a new offense, but also is operating under the assumption that he is, as you said, what he is - a mediocre quarterback nearing 30 with very little success to show for his pedigree. But there are a few reasons this deal makes sense that you glossed over.
Signing Chase Daniel isn't going to help anything. This isn't the NBA where you can just trot out anyone and hope it goes well. You still need some measure of quality at the position. And yes, that means paying for it. And as for the NFL Draft, it's not just a matter of whether a quarterback will be available at 13. What if they hate who's available? What if they don't think this class is any good, period? What if they'd rather wait until day three to draft a guy? And what if the other quarterback-starved teams simply jump the Eagles and leave them with nothing?
It's irresponsible to bank on anything going your way in the draft, especially when you're picking in the middle of the first. Bringing back a quarterback who isn't completely incompetent means the team isn't locked in a position where they have to have to have to draft someone. Is it totally out of the question that Howie is looking at next year's crop and saying "let's hold off for a season"? I don't think so.
And a minor gripe here, but they passed on Wilson in the sense that they didn't draft him earlier, but no one else - the Seahawks included - did either. Wilson went 75th overall; Foles went 88th. And no one expected the Eagles to draft a QB in 2012 - that feels like revisionist history to me. Besides, other than awesome local nickname potential, what does Bridgewater (Bridgewooder?) do that excites you enough to give him the keys to your franchise?
Dave: Well my friend, that's because you don't have the extremist viewpoint that I have: either you have the guy at QB, or you don't, and if you don't you're just wasting everybody's time. The Eagles don't have the guy at QB.
We're in total agreement that you can't go into the draft empty handed. But Bradford ain't the guy, so why bother wasting cap space that you can use on actually good players on mediocre ones. I'd much rather churn through cheap journeyman after cheap journeyman until you get the guy in the draft than bring back Bradford. In other words, give me Rodney Peete and Ty Detmer until you get Donovan McNabb instead of Andy Dalton at $17M a year for six or seven years. Assuming they do draft a QB in the first, would you rather have Chase Daniel at QB and say, Kelechi Osemele at LG or Sam Bradford at QB and not get a legitimate starter at guard? I'd rather have the former, because you're going to move on from that veteran QB anyway, but you've improved the supporting cast for the young QB.
We all know that without a top QB, it's really hard to be a Super Bowl contender. If the chips fall the right way, you can build a defense so good that you can win with any QB, though you also need to surround that bad QB with some talent on offense (even Trent Dilfer had Shannon Sharpe, Jonathan Ogden and Jamal Lewis). The 2016 Eagles defense should be very good but not 2000 Ravens or 2015 Broncos level of great, and even if it was the skill positions aren't good enough to carry the load.
Yes, the Seahawks did pass on Wilson as well, but it's not revisionist history to say that a team that drafted a QB in the third round shouldn't have drafted a better one in the 2nd round. Maybe no one expected it heading into the draft, but they did draft a QB, and not some 6th round guy that every team does every so often. They waited too long because they either poorly judged the players or poorly judged the draft value. I'm not filled with confidence by this front office.
If they feel like it would be better long term to punt on QB this year and draft one next year, then they should be tanking to improve their chances of getting one next year. Instead they're operating like they are trying to win the pathetic NFC East, which is doable but also puts them out of the running for a top QB. This is most likely their best chance to get a QB in the next two years.
Which means signing Sam Bradford to be their quarterback in 2016 probably means they'll be drafting someone else to be their QB in 2017.