Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2016 is almost here. Coaches and players report as soon as Monday, July 25. The Eagles' training camp schedule, including information on practices open to the public, can be found by clicking here. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles roster. We start off by taking a look at the quarterback position.
Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz
The Eagles emphasized the quarterback position like no other this offseason. First, they decided to re-sign Sam Bradford to a two-year deal worth $35 million. Next, the Eagles decided they needed a backup not named Mark Sanchez. So they signed Chase Daniel, who is familiar with Doug Pederson's offense, to a three-year deal worth $21 million and traded Sanchez to the Broncos. Some thought the Eagles were done investing heavy resources in the quarterback position at that point. Then the Birds went out and traded a number of future draft picks in order to move up to No. 2 in the 2016 NFL Draft in order to select presumed franchise quarterback of the future: Carson Wentz.
Now the question is: how will it all play out?
If the Eagles are to be taken at their word, it's simple: Bradford is the starter, Daniel is the backup, and Wentz is the third string guy. But is it really that simple?
Probably. The Eagles have been bullish on Bradford as their starting quarterback, despite his weak attempt to force his way out of Philadelphia earlier this offseason. Bradford, who turns 28 in November, is finally entering a training camp with the benefit of being fully healthy. Bradford spent the past two offseasons recovering from two different ACL injuries. This offseason, aside from his brief holdout, Bradford has been a full participant in team drills. He's been able to focus on strength and conditioning instead of rehabbing.
Another aspect working in Bradford's favor is that he finished the 2015 season on a high note. In his final seven games, Bradford completed 67.9% of his attempts for 1959 yards (7.6 yards per attempt), 10 touchdown, four interceptions, and a 96.7 passer rating. Those numbers were definitely an improvement to Bradford's poor start last year. With that said, Bradford's performance needs to be put in context. A chunk of those stats were accumulated in garbage time losses at the end of the season. And when you take Bradford's best seven game stretch and compare it to the best seven game stretch of all quarterbacks last season, it still only ranks 21st.
Expectations for Bradford should be tempered. He's been mediocre at best for most of his career. He's never led his team to even an eight win season. The Eagles brought him back because they feel like he gives them a chance to compete in a weak division. That's fine. But what happens if the Eagles are bad, and at least in part due to Bradford's struggles?
The Birds don't have much motivation to give Bradford an extended look this season, unless they're really just hoping to get something for him in a trade after the year is over. If Bradford isn't helping the Eagles compete for the division, as intended, then really he's just wasting snaps as a lame duck placeholder. Therefore, Bradford could be kept on a short leash. Unlike at any other point in his career, there's a lot of pressure on him to perform and earn his job.
Though Bradford is certainly the favorite to win the job, he will face legitimate competition in training camp. Don't count out Daniel just because he's started two games in his NFL career. The veteran looked good during spring practices, as he should have since he knows Pederson's offense. The Eagles paid Daniel like a low-end starter. If Bradford struggles, it's not hard to think the Eagles might turn to Daniel.
Wentz is the proverbial elephant in the quarterback room. It's no secret that the 23-year-old rookie is going to take over as Philadelphia's starter as soon as next season. In the meantime, though, he could be kept inactive on game day. Alternatively, he could look awesome in training camp and force the Eagles to play him right away. Of course, that's not the likely outcome. Wentz is still learning the nuances of the NFL. It was evident in spring practices that his passes were wobbly and he needs time to adjust to the big league.
There might be a time late in the season where starting Wentz is the only option that makes sense. If the Eagles season goes poorly and they're out of playoff contention by the end of the year, Wentz needs to play. Getting him snaps is more valuable than letting Bradford and/or Daniel waste time trying to win meaningless games.
How will it play out?
I fully expect Bradford to have a strong summer, just like he did last year. He'll look good in training camp and preseason before entering Week 1 as the starter. Once the regular season starts, though, the pressure will be on. We'll see if he can play well enough to hold onto his job.
Daniel will be the primary backup to Bradford. If the injury-prone Bradford gets hurt, he'll be the one filling in. Wentz will likely be inactive on game day for most of the year, especially if Bradford stays healthy and plays well.
Who could be a surprise cut?
Nobody. It's a lock that all three passers will make the roster.