For months, the Eagles said they would keep Carson Wentz bubbled-wrapped as their third-string quarterback. He would develop behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, not dress on Sundays and gradually make the transition from Division I-AA college football to the NFL.

But Christmas came early on Saturday. By trading Sam Bradford to the Vikings the Eagles ripped open the wrapping on their prized rookie and in the process tore up their initial plan for his education.

What changed?

Well, for one, Teddy Bridgewater happened. The quarterback suffered a devastating leg injury that will keep him out for at least this season, and the Vikings, believing they have a team that is Super Bowl-ready, caved and met Howie Roseman's demands for Bradford.

"The only circumstance that changed was this trade offer from the Vikings," Roseman said. "This was not our blueprint; this was not part of the plan."

But Roseman, to his credit, has no blueprint. His flexibility may at times be his own worst enemy. The incongruous plan to trade up for Wentz in the draft even though the Eagles already had Bradford was, on paper, a faulty one.

But the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations was adaptable enough to get Wentz at No. 2 overall, and he was adaptable enough to trade his starting quarterback a week before the regular season because the return (a 2017 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 fourth) was inconceivably too good to pass up.

Luck, of course, played a role, and, no, not Andrew. The Eagles one day may erect a statue to Bridgewater's knee.

But Roseman - and Doug Pederson, presumably - would have never been comfortable parting with Bradford unless they believed Wentz was ready or close to it. The rookie may not be healthy enough to play in the opener next Sunday, or the Eagles could wait a week or two or possibly three, but Wentz will start sooner rather than later.

The Eagles have been careful not to hype Wentz over the last four months, but privately they have been ecstatic about his progress.

"It starts with his attention to detail, the way he goes about his business," Roseman said. "But at the same time, we rely on the [coaches] who are around him all the time. . . . They're in the meeting rooms; they're with him on the field when our other quarterbacks are playing; they're in his ear when he's practicing; they go through the thought process with him; and they've been around some great ones."

The evaluation is incomplete, though, at least based on the optimum amount of time Wentz was supposed to have in the preseason. He took just 39 snaps and threw just 24 passes before he fractured ribs in the opener. It was an impressive debut, and he certainly looked the part, but he was far from perfect.

Wentz threw an ill-advised red zone interception, he air-mailed a pass on a 20-yard "out" route, and he took far too many hits - one of which cracked his ribs. He missed the rest of the preseason and has yet to participate in a full practice.

He's not ready, but neither are most quarterbacks who play in their first season. The Eagles offensive line is aging and soon to be without Lane Johnson and the wide receivers are a suspect group, but how many quarterbacks drafted as high as Wentz start their careers with top-end offenses?

Not many.

There are risks. The Eagles don't want to hinder Wentz's confidence. He played for a second-level college program - albeit one of the best from the Football Championship Subdivision - and the jump to facing starting NFL defenses will be significant. His lone action came against the Buccaneers' second and third units.

But there is no substitute for learning on the job. A day ago, Wentz was set to take just scout team repetitions as the third quarterback. And now, at the very least, he will take a handful of first-team snaps - provided he's 100 percent healthy - as the Eagles prepare to face the Browns.

At the most, Wentz will take all of them. He should if the Eagles were to stack up the two quarterbacks as they stand now. Wentz is already ahead of Daniel. Add the benefit of getting the 23-year-old on the field right away and the decision is a near no-brainer.

Roseman deferred to Pederson, who was away to attend the funeral of his father, Gordon, when it came to naming a starter for Week 1. The coach is loyal to Daniel and should care how the trade will go over in the locker room, especially with aging veterans such as tackle Jason Peters and tight end Brent Celek.

But both long- and short-term gains outweigh the risks. And, did you hear, the Eagles got a first-rounder (!) -and a fourth (!) - for Bradford? He had a good preseason and said recently that his comfort was at an "all-time high."

But the ceiling for the Eagles with Bradford wasn't very high. At best, maybe they win nine games and sneak into the playoffs. But Roseman knows his roster as well as anyone, having cut it down to 53 on Saturday. There are holes and a lack of depth.

He wasn't actively peddling Bradford, but like all prescient GMs, he did know the price it would take to move the quarterback.

"A lot of it is just chumming and just kind of figuring out what people can get," Roseman said, "and maybe we do that sometimes, too."

Bridgewater's injury increased the cost, the Vikings bit, and the Eagles, in turn, accelerated the timetable on Wentz.

It's no longer a question of when.

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane