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Chip Kelly says Bradford is no trade chip

Chip Kelly broke more than two months of public silence Wednesday and committed to Sam Bradford as the Eagles' quarterback while trying to silence speculation that the team is pursuing Marcus Mariota.

Eagle head coach Chip Kelly. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Eagle head coach Chip Kelly. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)Read more

Chip Kelly broke more than two months of public silence Wednesday and committed to Sam Bradford as the Eagles' quarterback while trying to silence speculation that the team is pursuing Marcus Mariota.

"Let's dispel that right now. I think that stuff is crazy," said the Eagles coach, who called Mariota the best quarterback in the draft. "We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that because we have too many other holes that we are going to take care of."

He apparently does not think one of those holes is at quarterback after acquiring Bradford on Tuesday, surrendering Nick Foles, a 2016 second-round pick, and a 2015 fourth-round pick. If the compensation was not enough of an indication that Kelly wants Bradford in Philadelphia, he used a public platform Wednesday to quell curiosity about whether the Eagles could flip Bradford in another deal.

"We did not bring Sam in here to be a chip," Kelly said. "I'm the only Chip here."

Kelly said that the Eagles were offered a first-round draft choice for Bradford on Wednesday, but they did not entertain the move and want him on the team. It was Kelly's way of trying to convince the public that the injury-prone quarterback's future will be with the Eagles.

Bradford missed all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It was the second consecutive year that the former No. 1 pick suffered that injury. Kelly said that if Bradford had never torn his ACL, he never would have been traded.

"We wouldn't have traded for him if we didn't think he has a tremendous upside as a quarterback," Kelly said. "We've done our due diligence in terms of talking to Dr. [James] Andrews in terms of what we are getting. So we feel very confident in where Sam is."

Bradford said his specific return date is "up in the air," but he expects to be ready by training camp. He said he first learned of a potential trade to the Eagles three or four weeks ago, so he was not surprised by the move.

"My main goal right now is to get healthy," Bradford said. "And once I get healthy, to learn this offense. And when I'm ready to get on the field - whether that's OTAs, training camp - it's to compete for the starting job. I don't want anything handed to me. I want to earn it. That's how I'm approaching this."

Bradford is excited about the possibilities of Kelly's offense, which he said is similar to the system he excelled in while winning the 2008 Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma. Kelly conferred with Sooners coach Bob Stoops and Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, who was Bradford's offensive coordinator in college.

Kelly also relied on offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who held the position in St. Louis during Bradford's rookie season. That gave insight into how Bradford is in the meeting room, which Kelly values.

"I think he's got an outstanding skill set," Kelly said. "He's a big, strong, physical quarterback. . . . He's smart, he's intelligent, he's one of the most accurate throwers when you see him throw the football. . . . I think he's wired right."

But then there's the issue of the injuries. Bradford, who is listed at 6-4, 224 pounds, explained that he suffered "freak" injuries to his ACL, and that the way he was hit would have torn the ligament whether it was previously unharmed or repaired.

However, Bradford's injuries have not been limited to the last two years. He missed six games in 2011 and also had a major injury in college. After five seasons in St. Louis without a playoff appearance, he admitted he has "a lot to prove" and that Kelly "took a leap of faith" bringing him to Philadelphia. He knows that his recent history created skepticism about the transaction among fans.

"I understand it from their standpoint," Bradford said. "I'd probably be a little apprehensive, too. . . . I don't think anyone should be worried. I think once they see me on the field and see how hard I worked to get back, I think all those doubts will be gone from their mind."

Kelly also made a point to mention Mark Sanchez, who officially signed Wednesday. He said Bradford and Sanchez are both his quarterbacks, although the investment the Eagles made - plus Bradford's $12.985 million salary - would make Bradford the front-runner for the No. 1 job.

But the Eagles haven't discussed a contract extension with Bradford yet, so there remains no financial obligation beyond this year's salary and no repercussions if Bradford is dealt. That could theoretically keep the possibility of Mariota alive. Kelly said the Eagles "have not looked into anything" about moving up in the draft, and surrendering multiple picks is "not philosophically" what the team believes.

It was his way of trying to quiet the Mariota talk and introduce the idea that Bradford will be the Eagles quarterback.