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Say it ain't so, Chip

The more you examine the Eagles-Rams trade involving Nick Foles and Sam Bradford, the less sense it makes.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles injured his shoulder against the Texans and did not return to the game. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles injured his shoulder against the Texans and did not return to the game. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

WHAT YOU see isn't always what you get with Chip Kelly, which is why, even after the Eagles finally released all the details of The Great Quarterback Swap early yesterday evening, I was reluctant to give two thumbs down to a deal that appears to clearly favor the St. Louis Rams.

They traded Nick Foles, who is just 2 years removed from that memorable 27-touchdown, two-interception season, and a fourth-round draft pick this year and a second-round pick next year for oft-injured Sam Bradford and the Rams' fifth-round pick this year.


I've stared at the trade terms a hundred times and have examined it from a hundred different angles.

I keep thinking there's something there I just don't see. I keep looking for a way that this deal might help Kelly get a little closer to doing what everyone thinks he wants to do on draft day, which is trade up and take his former University of Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota.

Earlier in the day, when it was reported that the Eagles would be receiving the Rams' second-round pick as part of the deal, it made sense. It would have given the Eagles an extra early-round chip and a pedigree quarterback (Bradford was the first pick in the 2010 draft) to bargain with in a trade-up. But that report turned out to be incorrect.

Now, unless there's something I'm not seeing, it appears the 27-year-old Bradford isn't a trade chip after all. It appears he's here to stay. It appears that he'll be the Eagles' 2015 season-opening quarterback.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Bradford, 27, is a very good quarterback. He's got a strong arm, is much more accurate than his .586 career completion percentage would seem to indicate, and doesn't throw a lot of interceptions (just 23 in his last 1,170 attempts).

Everything being even, he's a better quarterback than Foles and a better fit for Kelly's offense.

But everything isn't even.

Bradford is a major injury risk. He has played in just seven games the last two seasons after tearing his left ACL not once, but twice. Missed the entire 2014 season with the second ACL tear.

In five seasons with the Rams, he has missed 31 of 80 games. Throw in his senior season at Oklahoma, when he missed 10 games with a separated shoulder, and he has managed to answer the bell for just 52 of his last 93 games.

That Kelly, who places such a high value on players who can stay on the field and give him snaps, would be willing to take a major risk on a guy with an injury history like Bradford's seems out of character.

It explains why the Eagles acted so quickly over the weekend to re-sign Mark Sanchez. They wanted to make sure they had an experienced backup as insurance in case Bradford suffers another serious injury or isn't ready to go by the start of the season.

Bradford is entering the final year of his 6-year, $78 million rookie contract. He is due to make $12.9 million this season. It isn't clear whether the Eagles will attempt to sign him to an extension.

At the scouting combine in Indianapolis last month, the Rams denied reports that they had given Bradford permission to explore a trade and said they anticipated him being their starting quarterback next season.

"I think the answer is providing [backup] insurance in case we go through more bad luck [with Bradford]," general manager Les Snead said. "Let's see if he can reach his potential, but let's insure the position.

"Let's get Sam healthy, and then when he's healthy, let's let him go compete. And I think the guy's got a chance to be a heck of a starting quarterback."

Obviously, they had a change of heart in the last 3 weeks.

Bradford tore his left ACL for the second time last August and missed the entire season. It's unclear what his level of participation will be in the Eagles' spring OTAs.

"He's at a phase now where he can do a lot of things throwing some balls and moving around," Snead said at the combine. "But again, I can't tell you where he's at."

Bradford has had more injury misfortune than one guy deserves. He returned for his final season of eligibility at Oklahoma even though he had graduated and won the Heisman Trophy because he wanted to help the Sooners win a national title, then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in his third game.

He started all 16 games his rookie year with the Rams, but missed six games the next year because of a high ankle sprain. He tore his ACL seven games into the 2013 season after throwing 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 262 attempts, then tore it again 2 weeks before the start of the regular-season last year.

"That's just tough news 2 years in a row," Snead said. "The night he got hurt, that was tough. Tough on everybody.

"Not just the Rams, who lost their starting quarterback. We're talking about a human being. That's just tough news 2 years in a row.

"We basically told the kid, 'Why don't you get away? Come back when you're ready.' I didn't know how long that would be. Because there's not really much you can say. But he was probably back in our building within 14 days, and he's spent a lot of time in that building.

"He's getting better. Not only the knee, but the entire body and mind."'

The 6-4, 236-pound Bradford is essentially the same type of quarterback as Foles - a pocket passer who isn't going to be much of a running threat on zone reads.

He did play in a up-tempo offense at Oklahoma for coach Bob Stoops.

The trade is a pretty obvious indication of the lack of faith Kelly had in Foles. But why was he so willing to take a chance on a major injury risk like Bradford? And why was he willing to give up a fourth-round pick this year and a second-round pick next year to get him?

There has to be something here I'm missing.

On Twitter: @Pdomo