Hayes: Bradford returns to Eagles after absurd demand
It was a clever piece of salvage.
Early in Sam Bradford's defection, Eagles chief Howie Roseman went on WIP and shifted blame from client to advisor. He offered the opinion that the situation was conceived and driven by mega-agent Tom Condon:
"Some of this is agent-driven," Roseman said.
Roseman's radio ruse saved Sam's skin.
Teammate Connor Barwin told WIP radio Monday morning that Bradford told him he would return Monday, meaning today.
Bradford has been absent from the Eagles' offseason workouts in protest of the team drafting Carson Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick last month. The Eagles acquired the pick by trading up twice, from 13th to eighth to second. The second trade apparently pushed Bradford over the edge … or, according to Roseman, prompted Condon to advise his client, Bradford, to bolt.
That, of course, is absurd.
Condon is not so shortsighted as to taint his relationship with any team like this and to stain his reputation in the act. It is suicidal for an agent reneging on a freshly negotiated deal, especially one as juicy as Condon got for Bradford: a two-year, $35 million extension in March with $22 million in guaranteed money. It is a better deal than Bradford could have gotten anywhere else. The Eagles also guaranteed him a starting spot this season no matter whom they drafted.
Also, before Bradford signed they told him that, since he would only commit to a two-year deal, they were going to draft a player they hoped would grow to be his replacement. However, they said, they remained hopeful he would play so well that they would be forced to extend his contract again.
Bradford would have to earn that contract in 2016 … but then, he stormed off. He demanded a trade.
It was an absurd demand. There would have been negligible interest in him on the free-agent market. That is why he returned to the Eagles in the first place. If no one wanted to meet his price in free agency, what possible trade value could he have?
Clearly, Condon had a prospective trade partner for the Eagles: Denver. The Broncos were desperate, having lost Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency. The Broncos and Eagles engaged in a brief dalliance, but the Broncos ultimately decided that drafting long-term project Paxton Lynch was a better choice than trading for Bradford.
Think about that. The Eagles drafted Wentz to replace Bradford in Philadelphia. Denver drafted Bradford's replacement before he even got there. Faced with no other options, Bradford apparently will return.
There's just one little problem.
Not one NFL player, current or former, voiced anything but disdain for what Bradford has done.
Barwin, in his eighth NFL season, said last week on Comcast SportsNet that he spoke with Bradford and told Bradford that the team is counting on him to start this season. At the same time, Barwin painted a strikingly candid portrait of his teammate as a silver-spooned Golden Boy:
"He was the No. 1 overall pick," Barwin said. "Then he came here. He never had a player drafted behind him, like a lot of us have. I've had a player drafted at my position almost every year."
Kurt Warner, who once was in Bradford's situation, questioned Bradford's competitiveness and his commitment as a teammate, on Comcast SportsNet, just before the draft. On Saturday, Joe Theismann painted him as a spoiled, entitled Millennial on Sirius XM.
Even Terrell Owens, whose bona fides are tainted by greed, called Bradford a "coward" on TMZ last week because of Bradford's unwillingness to fight for his job long-term.
Say what you want about T.O., but he showed up (when allowed; he was twice suspended).
By contrast, Bradford abandoned his team just as new coach Doug Pederson was installing the new offense. He left a roster hanging – a roster full of veterans who, as Barwin said, have seen their replacements drafted, too.
None of them left the team.
None of them will have sympathy for Sam. All of them are lost a measure of respect for him as he sulked while they worked.
Roseman knew that. However, he also knew that he has to give his quarterback an avenue to return. So he blamed it all on the agent.
Players, especially veterans, tend to view agents as necessary evils; money men who help them stay out of debt and, sometimes, out of jail. By blaming Condon for everything, Roseman helped Bradford retain a measure of respect.
Rookie minicamp starts Friday. Organized Team Activities, or OTAs, begin four days later, the first of four such sessions that run through June 3. All are optional for veterans.
Mandatory minicamp begins June 7. That was seen as a drop-dead date for Bradford's return. Returning Monday will go a long way toward saving face with his teammates.
Cleverly, Roseman left the door open.