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Eagles Re-signing Sam Bradford Was The Right Move

...because of his contract. The deal Howie worked out has undergone a lot of scrutiny and weathered some mild criticism since it was announced on Tuesday, but in the long run it will be good for the Eagles.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The big hooplah last week was the shiny new contract Bradford signed with the Eagles. After the details emerged, there were mixed reviews between fans and pundits alike. Most people were glad to see that it was a two year contract, but the fact that guarantees were higher than the franchise tag and $18 million annual average rubbed some the wrong way. I'm not going to beat a dead horse and debate whether or not he deserved the contract. But I have peered into the future and can tell you that this was a great move by the Eagles for three reasons which I have detailed below.

You can bookmark this page and I'll eat crow if I'm wrong.

Reason One: The Contract

Make no mistake - this is not a two-year contract. This is a one-year contract with a second-year option. The simple reasoning behind the structure is a win-win for the Eagles. If Bradford plays terribly next season, the Eagles can move on relatively painlessly on the rather safe assumption that he will find a suitor elsewhere on the market. I realize the Bradford haters are convinced that he is garbage, but if quarterbacks like Matt Flynn, Brian Hoyer, and Josh McCown can routinely find work, Bradford can too.

On the other hand, if Bradford exceeds expectations and looks the part of a franchise quarterback, he will have earned that $18 million annual average that skeptics keep griping about. You can say that the franchise tag would have also accomplished this, but the contract offers the added advantage of giving the front office a whole season to work out a long-term deal. Yes, the huge cap number next year gives Bradford all of the leverage in negotiations, but the Eagles can always tag him in 2018 if necessary. Given Bradford's desire for continuity, I'll hedge my bet that the idea of a contract dispute lasting upwards of two full seasons is rather nauseating to him. He's made enough money that he will be willing to be malleable in negotiations in order to maintain the structure that brought him the success on the field that has escaped him his entire career. I'm not saying he'll go full hometown discount, but I do think he'd be willing to roll some money into incentives, signing bonuses, and other contract tricks general managers use to compromise.

Reason Two: The Draft

Retaining Bradford gives Howie and Co. much more flexibility when the draft comes around in April. With a quarterback in the fold, the course of action for Round 1 becomes much simpler and clearer. My guess is that they have between two and four players on the board which they expect to be available at thirteen (I'm not a draft nut so I won't even begin to offer names). I'm thinking these are "BPA" guys that they will pull the trigger on if they are there - and that obviously carries over to players they had rated higher if they manage to fall into their lap. I also think that they do not have any quarterback rated highly enough to take at thirteen. Should they go this route, they will grab a quarterback somewhere in Round 3. For all you Hackenburg haters, don't worry - even though I'm a fan of his as a Penn State alumnus, his old coach Bill O'Brien will have snapped him up long beforehand.

So what if those guys are all gone by thirteen? Then they trade back and recoup a second round pick. Let's say they are now somewhere in the mid- to late-twenties. If one of the "Big Three" quarterbacks is still available at this point (and recent history suggests that this is a real possibility) then I think the Eagles pounce. If not, they'll go BPA and then grab a second-tier quarterback in the next round with their newly-acquired pick.

Either way, the Eagles come away with their own hand-picked passer that will have the benefit of sitting for a season or two while he adjusts to the speed of the NFL. This will also give Bradford some incentive to elevate his game or he will be unceremoniously dumped by the Eagles less than a year later after incubating their young quarterback for a season on the bench.

Reason Three: The Injury

This is probably the biggest wild card in the scenario. Bradford's injury history is not encouraging. At this point in his career, you have to assume he will miss time at some point during the regular season. I think Howie saw this as an opportunity rather than a risk when he retained Bradford. The model is simple: cut Sanchez and sign a camp body to save some cash, nudge your rookie into earning the backup job during training camp, and then trot him onto the field for his first in-game experience once Bradford tweaks an ankle or pulls a hammy. Even though this doesn't sound like a great scenario, it is a great way to gather more insight on the true nature of their quarterback situation. If Bradford was struggling up until his injury, the rookie's play can give you some idea of what you can do moving forward. If Bradford had been playing lights-out, you're just offering tape for other quarterback-hungry teams who might be willing to ship a second- or third-round pick to Philly in exchange for the promising quarterback (should he play well, of course).

If Bradford is going to get injured, then ideally it would be something relatively minor that would force the rookie to start only one or two games. But like I said before, this is a wild card. Not only can we not predict what type of injury Bradford might suffer (it could be season- or even career-ending), but we can't even say whether or not he'll defy the odds and not get injured at all.

Now, don't take this to mean I am hoping Bradford suffers an injury. I would never wish that on a player - not even Greg Hardy. And I'm not saying that Howie is basing his business decisions on factors he cannot control, either. Bradford's injury history most likely did not a play a significant role when Roseman made the choice to push for his return. But I do think it was something he gave some thought to, at the very least. All I'm suggesting is that "rookie backup to injury prone starter" would be an excellent strategy for making the best of a bad situation should Bradford go down, more so for a team that is a few years from contending with a cloudy quarterback situation. The details of Bradford's contract indicates this is the case.


Overall, the benefits outlined above make the Bradford contract a great deal for the Eagles. Yeah, it's $3 million more in guarantees than the franchise tag, but the longer negotiating period for future contracts and the fact that most of that money can be made up by cutting Sanchez completely mitigates that downside. This is just more proof that even though Howie has his fair share of issues, working out great player contracts is not one of them.

And all I ask is that when Paxton Lynch gets drafted twenty-sixth overall and starts two games in Week 13 and 14 next year after Bradford sprains his right thumb whacking his throwing hand off the helmet of his own lineman, don't come to me for investment advice.

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