Agent Tom Condon explains Sam Bradford's trade request, return
Before Sam Bradford returned to work on Monday, agent Tom Condon called Howie Roseman to take the temperature of the players and coaches in the NovaCare Complex.
"Everybody's looking forward to getting him back and welcoming him with open arms," Roseman said, according to Condon's account in an interview on the Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday.
Bradford's relationship with Philadelphia fans might be a different story.
"I think with regard to the fans, my experience has been both as an agent and as a former player, if you're the nicest guy in the world, and you play horribly, the fans hate you," Condon said. "And if you play great and you're fantastic on the field, they love you. It's all a matter of performance."
When Bradford re-signed with the Eagles, Condon said it was with the understanding that the Eagles were in win-now mode and wanted Bradford to play with this supporting cast after his experience in Philadelphia last season. After trading to No. 2 to draft Carson Wentz, Bradford and Condon thought "it's not really a competition" because Wentz would play when ready. The price tag of the trade was too steep to keep Wentz on the bench.
Based on Condon's interview with Eisen and on the Stephen A. Smith show on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio, it seems Bradford's trade demand was based on believing there was a better situation in Denver. Condon mentioned the Broncos in both interviews.
"They made a business decision and we made one, too," Condon said to Eisen. "We thought we had a chance to go to a really good football team and be there for a long time, and that opportunity was there, and the attempt was made. It was just that when the Broncos contacted the Eagles and talked about a trade, they couldn't agree on a price, and they drafted someone in the first round. At that point, our options are pretty limited. So our next best option is go back and prepare for the season, and then we're back to where you already said – he goes in, plays great, he's lights out, everyone loves him, and he either sits Carson for another year or he's very valuable as a trade commodity."
Bradford re-signed with the Eagles before the start of free agency. At that point, the Eagles had the No. 13 pick and Brock Osweiler had not yet left the Broncos. It would have been interesting to see what Bradford would have done if he waited to test free agency and see what came open in Denver. Then again, there's a difference between getting Bradford at a $7 million salary this season (like Denver would have done in a trade), and $18 million (like the Eagles are responsible for with bonus money).
The Eagles, who want Bradford on the team this season, were not going to give him away for a below-market price – especially with $11 million in dead money. And once the Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch, they did not have the same necessity for a quarterback.
At that point, the Eagles were actually the best option. He could start in Philadelphia and play with receivers that he knows. If he stays healthy and plays well this season, Bradford would be an attractive option next season, and could even sign a third contract with a team that wants him on a deal that goes beyond 2017. The Eagles could potentially recuperate value that they surrendered in the Wentz deal.
That would seem to be the best-case scenario for both sides at this point. And that is why Bradford is back in the building. The biggest issue, then, is damage control.
"He's a tough guy, and the players in the locker room understand what's going on, as do the coaches," Condon said. "That's what he's really worried about. It's all settled on the field. He either plays really well or he doesn't. And if he does great, as I expect him to, all's forgotten. And so basically when you look at it, the Eagles made a business decision and it was good for them, Sam made a business decision that had the opportunity to be good for him, and didn't work out. So we take our next best option."