The Quarterback controversy in Philadelphia has finally started to settle. Sam Bradford returned to OTA’s last week and has seemingly accepted that his best option to secure his future is to give 100% in the present. Meanwhile Carson Wentz has hit the ground running and impressed during his short time with the Eagles. He’s still some way off of being the quarterback that the Eagles know he can become, but the initial signs are promising. After weeks of uncertainty and tension, it all seems to be sunny in Philadelphia. That’s because strangely, it may have been realized that Sam Bradford needs Carson Wentz, just as much as Carson Wentz needs Sam Bradford.
After signing a very healthy two-year deal worth $36M with the Eagles, Sam Bradford was in a bubble of comfort. Knowing that Chase Daniel was signed to be a reliable backup, Bradford was safe in the knowledge that he was the Eagles go-to guy. Sure, he and his agent Tom Condon would have liked a more lucrative deal that secures his long term future, but the Eagles didn’t have the funds to commit to someone who has so many long-term concerns over him..and the rest of the NFL teams searching for a long term answer either were in the same boat or simply viewed the asking price as too much..just as Denver did in the Draft.
Sam Bradford signed with a team who were very generous with their offer because of the limited options around them. They had to find a middle ground and once again, that involved a “do-or-die” deal for the former number one overall pick.
Fast forward to the controversy post-draft and what we saw were narcissistic actions from both Bradford and his agent. These weren’t due to previously unexperienced competition for the Eagles Quarterback, or even the “betrayal” that Bradford reportedly felt following the Eagles decision to trade up for Wentz. Sam Bradford has become expendable. A statement that two months ago seemed barbaric to say.
The drafting of Carson Wentz contributed to an antithesis. The Eagles had a starter and now were insistent on developing one under a man they had just paid $36M. Sam Bradford was no longer in his mind, the Eagles long term option at quarterback..but it’s exactly what he needed.
The league previously viewed Bradford as a quarterback who had failed to live up to his potential. A quarterback plagued by a lack of help around him, injury problems and inconsistencies. A quarterback who was a money vacuum and was yet to play to the level of money he was earning.
Now however, he’s become a much more interesting player. A man who at first appeared to shy away from competition after signing a $36M deal and who’s “do-or-die” contract now lives up to the reputation, quite literally.
Other than the highly spoken of “seven game stretch” towards the end of 2015, Bradford enjoyed a mediocre 2015 campaign in a system that favors the Quarterback, hampered by yet more injury woes. Without Wentz, he’s a Quarterback viewed by his team as the guy and the NFL as “a” guy. A quarterback who everyone passed on in free agency except the team that saw value where others did not. The value of lighting one last fire in order to ignite an explosion elsewhere.
With a rookie in the picture, Bradford becomes a veteran on the bubble who was actively searching for a team to give him a long term deal. There are numerous teams still looking for their franchise quarterback who will be paying close attention to how 2016 unfolds for the 28 year old.
If Bradford plays as sporadically as he did in 2015, his value is going to decrease massively. With Daniel and Wentz waiting in the wings, the Eagles would no longer have to rely on Bradford to turn a bad year around and would be able to shift him without much concern over 2017. However if he plays lights out and proves he can live up to his value, the Eagles would more than likely be able to set the market. They wouldn’t need to pay him the bucket loads he would desire as they already have their long-term guy..but other teams with more cap room would be more inclined to do so.
Bradford needed this push. He needed to be thrust back into the spotlight one more time to try and prolong a career that could well have been nearing its end if another mediocre season unfolded. Was he put back in the spotlight in 2015? Yes, but as we all know the real star of the Chip Kelly Offense..was Chip Kelly. The Offense disguised a lot of flaws (look at Nick Foles), and kept the quarterback in chains, limiting what they can do on any given play.
The presence of Wentz undoubtedly puts pressure on Bradford. Not just to play like his life depends on it in 2016, but to show that he’s a leader. That he can play when the cards aren’t dealt in his favor and that he can maybe..just maybe live up to the reputation he’s failed to reach in recent years.
In contrast, it’s obvious why Carson Wentz needs Bradford. When you read any scout report for the NDSU star or watch a game, you’ll encounter the same criticisms.
- His mechanics need work
- Isn’t consistently accurate
- Needs to improve presence in the pocket
- Needs to improve his progressions
Sam Bradford’s impressive stretch in 2015 saw him rank among the most accurate Quarterbacks in the league and like it or not, his quick release and pocket presence are attributes that make him such an impressive passer on his day. It’s no coincidence that Bradford’s strengths are Wentz’s weaknesses and if Sleeves is going to have his best season to date, the ceiling remains high. High enough for Wentz to learn how to operate the pocket in Pederson’s offense and understand how to develop through his progressions efficiently.
Carson Wentz needs Sam Bradford to refine his craft and turn his weaknesses into strengths. If he can improve his mechanics, pocket presence and speed of reading the Defense, could become one of the most dangerous Quarterbacks in the league.
Sam Bradford on the other hand, needs to stay relevant. He needs to be on a stage where teams can see every aspect of his game. The leadership, the character, the mechanics and his form. In an Offense in which he is given the reigns on a deal where he has now made his own bed, Bradford needs the presence of one of the top rookie signal callers to prove that he can still be the quarterback that the world expected him to become back in 2010. Whether it’s in Philadelphia or not, becoming expendable has given Sam Bradford one last shot at earning a long-term contract in a team that can support him.
Mandatory photo credit: Matt Rourke/AP