The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Jets entered the offseason in two relatively similar quarterback positions. With just under a month to go until Training Camp gets underway, the two situations could not be any more contrasting.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career year in 2015 while Sam Bradford enjoyed the infamous “7-game stretch” and ended the season as one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL. With a successful year in the books, both quarterbacks felt entitled to a big payday..and fortunately for the Eagles, this is where the similarities end.
The Eagles pulled the trigger on another do-or-die contract for Sam Bradford..a decision which at the time was met with mixed reactions. Whether you deem Bradford worth the 2-year $35M contract or not, the method behind the signing was obvious.
Bradford was the best option for the Eagles. If Carson Wentz could come in and start right away, they would have simply let Bradford walk and turned their attention to trading up for a top pick. The free agency waters were murky, the Eagles weren’t in a position to create trade leverage and the deal signed essentially kept Tom Condon and Sam Bradford happy. Bradford is once again in a do-or-die scenario, signed to an incentive based deal. A good year in 2016 will not only see him earn the money he feels entitled to, but create a market for himself. Bradford wants to secure his long-term future..be it in or away from Philadelphia. The best way of doing that is to have a lights-out short term future.
As the Eagles began to focus on the draft, the Jets had still not signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new contract and the whispers began to circulate around the city.
The Eagles traded up to draft NDSU’s Carson Wentz, sparking all kinds of controversy. From Bradford missing voluntary workouts to reportedly sending and later rescinding trade requests..it was a rocky few weeks for the Eagles. In the meantime, the Jets had still not signed Fitzpatrick to a deal while the rumors began to intensify.
Then, the storm began to calm. Bradford realized that his best chance of a long-term deal was to grit his teeth and get on with it, returned to workouts and even went as far as organizing a passing-camp in San Diego..inviting Carson Wentz.
The Eagles now have one of the most stable quarterback positions in the NFL. A short-term starter who’s capable of winning football games, a reliable backup in Chase Daniel and a rookie with a very high ceiling. The Jets..still don’t know who their starting quarterback is going to be.
Yesterday, one of the worst things that could have happened for the Jets unfolded. Andrew Luck signed a six-year deal worth $140M, the biggest deal in NFL history. The Jets have their hands tied..especially when it comes to one-year deals. Considering that Fitzpatrick had arguably the second best QB season in Jets history, it would be hard to imagine that this doesn’t at least add fuel to a very dangerous fire.
Training Camp begins in just under a month for the Eagles..could you imagine if Sam Bradford had still not been signed? A new Head Coach, a new era..and the Eagles have no idea who their starting quarterback is going to be come Training Camp, let alone the regular season. The chemistry he had with his teammates begins to fade, he becomes tougher to afford..and a looming cloud of anxiety floats over the heads of Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman.
Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Vinny Curry, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz were among those to receive new contracts this offseason. If the Eagles had still left Sam Bradford in limbo, his value would have sky rocketed in the eyes of Tom Condon after Luck shook the foundations of the NFL.
When Bradford first signed his new deal, there were many skeptics. When The Eagles drafted Carson Wentz and Bradford threw his toys out of the pram..there were skeptics. But as we head into the final calm before the storm, there is a balance at the quarterback position in Philadelphia.
Menawhile, the Jets still don’t know who “their guy” is. The quarterback who led his team to a 10-6 record is in free-agency limbo..but what happens now? The Jets have left it too late to really cash in on the success of Fitzpatrick and will now have to find the money elsewhere if they want to retain his services. Is Geno Smith still a viable option? Could he have been as efficient as Fitzpatrick was in 2015 and taken his team to a 10-6 record? What about Hacken…nevermind.
The Jets scenario is almost a terrifying “what if” scenario for the Eagles. What if the Eagles hadn’t resigned Sam Bradford? What if Luck had signed this monster deal and the Eagles were now once again on the back foot when it came to negotiating? What if the team didn’t have a leader on Offense heading into Training Camp? What if Doug Pederson’s first season in Philadelphia would start with a complete lack of identity and leadership?
Instead, the Eagles bit the bullet and signed Sam Bradford before things spiraled out control, they secured their long term future in Carson Wentz..and they stabalized what has previously been a drastically unstable position. The Eagles have had five starting quarterbacks since 2012..and have finally created a position to ensure another era like that of Donovan McNabb has the opportunity to unfold.
For those still uncomfortable with the idea of Sam Bradford starting in 2016, take a drive up to the MetLife Stadium and look at their situation. The Jets and the Eagles are similar in many ways. Both have extremely efficient Defenses filled with potential..both could succeed with a capable quarterback..and both Bradford and Fitzpatrick built up quite the rapport with their teammates in unlikely circumstances.
The difference is, the Eagles have their guy..both for this year and in years to come. The Jets are still in the same boat that was once steered by the Eagles..wavering, worrying and hoping that somehow..they can find a sense of stability at the position.
The Eagles can now breathe a sigh of relief, they were able to sign Sam Bradford before his value was reset by Andrew Luck and also secure their long-term future at the position..all while the Jets were busy crunching numbers and trying to emulate the calm and efficient approach taken by Howie Roseman.
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