Upon returning to Philadelphia on Monday, Sam Bradford released a statement about how he's "excited" to be back and how he's "committed" to his teammates and the Eagles organization. Of course, we know that none of that is really true.
If it was, the 28-year-old quarterback wouldn't have tried to force his way out of Philly two weeks ago. He wouldn't have skipped work just a few months after receiving $5.5 million. No, it's clear Bradford only returned because he realized a trade wasn't going to happen. His return was not motivated by a change of heart. The Eagles were his only option. (Well, his only option besides retiring and forfeiting $11 million.)
Bradford had more than his fair share of doubters and critics prior to his trade demand. One of the few things he had going for him was that he seemed to be a generally likeable person. But then Bradford's trade request tarnished some of that good will. A number of his supporters turned against him. NFL coaches and general managers said they didn't feel bad for him. Eagles fans largely turned against him.
Bradford's trade demand and subsequent holdout proved to be entirely pointless. It was a total misplay. It's clear no one was ever interested in trading for him. The only thing he managed to accomplish was making himself look bad. I wouldn't be surprised if Eagles fans boo him when they get the chance in training camp and/or even the regular season. I wouldn't blame them, either. Why cheer for the guy who doesn't even want to play for the team you root for? Such hostility could have easily been avoided if Bradford had realized earlier that toughing it out in Philadelphia was the best choice all along.
But now the damage is done. The only thing Bradford can do now is go out and try his best to have a great season. Given his mediocre career body of work and extensive injury history, it's hard to count on that. Which is exactly why the Eagles felt the need to trade a big bundle of picks in order to land the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft in Carson Wentz.
Maybe Bradford defies expectation and plays better than expected. The Eagles wouldn't mind that. It's not impossible that he could play himself into the second year of his two year contract. It doesn't seem like that's the likely outcome, though. Rather, this could be a year where Bradford doesn't play well enough to stick around after this season but he makes himself a valuable enough commodity for someone to trade for him. That'd be the ideal situation for the Eagles. They could get rid of his contract, recoup a draft pick, and start Wentz in 2017.
I can't say Bradford did the "right" thing by returning to work now because the "right" thing would have been to never leave. But however you slice it, he's back now. The Eagles starts OTAs next week on Tuesday, May 17. It's up to him to put his best sleeve forward and make the most of this awkward situation.