DN Agenda: Should the Eagles trade/cut QB Sam Bradford or ignore his demands?
In the agenda, the Daily News will examine a major issue of the day in Philadelphia sports. We will frame the question and look at it from multiple angles, bringing you opinions from a sports staff unmatched in its experience. The Agenda will run occasionally, only in the Daily News.
(In the agenda, the Daily News will examine a major issue of the day in Philadelphia sports. We will frame the question and look at it from multiple angles, bringing you opinions from a sports staff unmatched in its experience. The Agenda will run occasionally, only in the Daily News).
I would press for a meeting to try to smooth this over. Take Sam out to dinner. (Jeffrey Lurie knows a nice spot in Fargo, N.D.). Reiterate that he's the QB in 2016, the team should be decent, if Bradford is healthy and productive he'll either be here again as the starter in 2017 or get a bunch of money from somebody else.
But I'd also make it clear I have no interest in trading him, for anything less than excellent value (a second-round pick this week?) That probably isn't happening, so I would drive home that the best way for Sam to make his $18 million in 2016 and create value in the marketplace is to report and play well. Bradford has missed nearly two seasons of his six-year career to injury. Does he really want to try to sell somebody on his potential after sitting out 2016?
One of the whispers out there is that Bradford is concerned about how being a lame-duck QB will affect his ability to lead. I actually asked players about that last week, when the possibility of the Eagles trading up arose. They all shrugged it off. The guy on the field, calling signals and getting the ball to them, is the quarterback. The other players don't look a lot deeper than that. As Malcolm Jenkins said to that question, "Everybody in here has somebody 'in waiting' behind them. That's just how the league works. I don't think it would change anything."
Point-blank, I don't believe Bradford is going to sulk through the spring and summer, reporting only when required, refusing to learn Doug Pederson's offense and being a drag on the team. Teammates wouldn't respect that. Other teams wouldn't respect that.
There seems to have been a huge shift in the Bradford camp from Sunday night, when Charles Robinson of Yahoo wrote that Bradford would not request a trade, and Monday morning, when ESPN's Adam Schefter said he had done just that. One possibility is that agent Tom Condon, who brought Bradford back here on a two-year deal when the free-agent market didn't look great, now thinks he has a fish on the line. It might be Super Bowl champion Denver.
But the Eagles have no reasons to do any favors for the Broncos, or for Bradford, who had to have heard all that talk ever since January about the Eagles drafting a quarterback. They will incur an $11 million cap charge if they trade him. They need to use some of that "emotional intelligence" Lurie touted to get their plan back on track.
Failing that, they need to get something for Bradford that ultimately will make Carson Wentz's life easier.
Because he already has pocketed more than $70 million, because he is scheduled to make another $18 million this year, Sam Bradford isn't a terribly sympathetic figure right now. Rich guys seldom are.
The popular sentiment is that he should just keep his mouth shut and continue to be fully committed to a team that screwed him last week by trading up in the draft so they can bring in his replacement.
The popular sentiment is that he surely must've seen this coming eight weeks ago when he willingly agreed to such a short deal.
But I don't think he did. Knowing Bradford, I think he really enjoyed playing here last season, in this town, with these players, and believed that if he stayed healthy and played well this season, he would get a much longer contract extension and be here for a long time.
He has every right to be angry and feel betrayed. And he has every right to ask for a trade. Which puts the ball in the Eagles' court.
Surely, Howie Roseman knew this was a good possibility when he decided to "invest in quarterbacks'' last week and made the trade to get Carson Wentz. If he didn't, then Jeff Lurie really needs to rethink his decision to put him back in charge of football operations.
The question is, what should he do now? Should he trade him? Or should he wait him out?
Publicly, Roseman told Comcast SportsNet's John Clark Monday that Bradford "is our starting quarterback.'' Privately, I think he's open to trading him if he gets a fair offer. And should be. Privately, I think this is the way he hoped it would play out.
The fact that Bradford is asking to be moved tells me that his agent, Tom Condon, probably knows of at least one team - and maybe more - that would be interested in making a deal for Bradford.
I'm not sure exactly who that would be since a few of the likely candidates, such as Denver and the Jets, don't have the cap space to take on Bradford's contract right now. Maybe the 49ers and Chip Kelly.
Trading Bradford now eliminates the risk of getting nothing for him next year if he gets hurt or plays poorly.
But it also pretty much assures you of a losing season in 2016. Wentz isn't going to be ready to play. And I don't share Doug Pederson's confidence that career backup Chase Daniel, who has thrown just 77 regular-season passes in six seasons, can get the job done as a 16-game starter.
But I'm not the one who gave Daniel a three-year, $21 million contract with $12 million in guarantees.
Trade Bradford and move on.
Sam Bradford is making Terrell Owens look like a Company Man. At least T.O. took the field for PART of his contract.
After taking this hard-line stance in this blue-collar town, Bradford had better be prepared for the fallout.
Bradford just signed a $35 million deal with at least $22 million guaranteed and now he is bellyaching that . . . what? He lacks job security? He wants the Eagles to show more faith in him? He expects them to commit salary-cap suicide because his ego is dinged?
The notion that Bradford has any justification in walking away from the team and demanding a trade is beyond flawed. He has every chance to play his huge deal into a mega-contract, no matter whom the Eagles draft. What, is he scared of, some kid from North Dakota State?
Even in the integrity-free world of the NFL, this degree of audacity is unprecedented. Again: Bradford JUST SIGNED THE DEAL He isn't squawking because he's underpaid. He's squawking because he believes the team either hurt itself (and him) by trading away picks; or, because he believes the team will not give him a chance to stay beyond one or two years.
He signed the deal knowing full well the team would, at some point, draft a quarterback, if only to fill the third QB stall in the locker room. If the Eagles saw fit to acquire the best quarterback possible, so be it. They also named him the starter.
This comes in the wake of the Eagles' trade with Cleveland last week to move from No. 8 to No. 2 overall, with the stated purpose of drafting a franchise quarterback. Before the move was made, Bradford didn't exactly endorse its possibility, nor did he promise to fall into line:
"If it happens, then that's something that I will deal with when it happens," he said.
Apparently, this is how he's dealing with it.
What should the Eagles do?
Apparently, that is their strategy. Hours after the report surfaced that Bradford wanted to be traded, Eagles chief Howie Roseman told Comcast SportsNet's John Clark that the Eagles still expected Bradford to start for them in 2016. Good for Howie.
Let Bradford miss the offseason program. Let him miss voluntary minicamps. Let him get fined for missing mandatory camps. Let him sit all season long, if that's what it takes.
He has no leverage.
He's a big, talented guy, but he has missed time in four of the past six seasons. His career passer rating is 81.0, just below Kyle Orton. He played well in the Eagles' last seven games, but he has negligible trade value.
He won the locker room by being productive while taking a tremendous beating late last season.
He will lose it if this embarrassingly selfish, utterly meritless tantrum continues. It might be OK for Fletcher Cox to miss offseason workouts, but he's a defensive tackle.
Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback, learning a new system under a new coach. Every minute he wastes pouting about The Pick erodes the respect he earned in 2015.
The Eagles have planned for Bradford to guide the team for at least 2016, and maybe 2017. If he decides he doesn't want to play, so be it. The Eagles will save money earmarked for Bradford and will use either Chase Daniel or the rookie.
As for Bradford's tender sensibilities:
He signed a two-year deal. Neither side exactly wedded itself to the other. If he wanted more job security, he could have signed for more years.
Trading Bradford would mean accelerating his $11 million in bonus money to this year's salary cap . . . which means the Eagles would have to recoup $11 million worth of value IN ADDITION to replacing the most important player on the roster. Who's going to make that trade?
They also would be setting back their reconstruction at least one season, if not more. If Bradford cares about his NFL future, then he will end this silliness and step into line. Quickly. The only way he can hope to create leverage to force a trade is to play well enough this season to warrant the $5.5 million cap hit a trade will cost next year.
Then again, if he plays really well, the Eagles will seek to extend his contract. Well, they might have, had he not made this egregious error in judgment.
There's a question for you:
Will anyone trust Sam Bradford again?
Sam Bradford had his chance to make a clean break from the Eagles.
He was an unrestricted free-agent quarterback without a franchise or transitional tag. He could have gone onto the market, picked a place he wanted to be and negotiated a deal.
Bradford, instead, chased the money and signed a two-year contract extension with the Birds worth $36 million (up to $26 million guaranteed).
Now according to ESPN's NFL insider, Adam Schefter, Bradford is upset that the Eagles intend to use the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday's draft to select a quarterback of the future.
Schefter reported that Bradford has demanded a trade and will not show up for anymore offseason programs with the Eagles.
OK, so what?
If you're the Eagles, you simply move on with your agenda. Bradford's wishes are irrelevant.
The Eagles will draft either North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz or University of California's Jared Goff.
They have free-agent signee Chase Daniel, who was with the Kansas City Chiefs last season, when new Eagles coach Doug Pederson was offensive coordinator.
Daniel basically was guaranteed $12 million to install Pederson's offense and help the other players learn it. Tutoring a rookie quarterback would be a lot smoother for him than mentoring a veteran going into his sixth season.
For the Eagles, Bradford was simply an insurance policy in case they weren't able to acquire one of the two quarterbacks in the draft.
He has no leverage, because the Eagles made it clear they don't consider him the long-term solution.
If Bradford wants to be traded, give agent Tom Condon permission to find a deal. The only stipulation is the Eagles get back a second-round pick, which they surrendered as part of the deal with the Rams to acquire Bradford in 2015.
That's a win for both sides.
Under no circumstances, however, should the Birds let Bradford pout his way into being cut. That would just be a knee-jerk reaction.
At this point, Bradford probably would love to be able to sign with another team while the Eagles supplemented his income.
Bradford won't be a distraction, because that would sabotage his own career. He needs to play and play well to prove he still has value.
Bradford passed on his chance to walk away from the Eagles; now he either fulfills his contract or retires.
The Eagles will be fine with either.
Daily News Staff Poll:
Ed Barkowitz: Trade
Les Bowen: Ignore
Bob Cooney: Trade
Doug Darroch: Trade
Jim DeStefano: Ignore
Paul Domowitch: Trade
Sam Donnellon: Ignore
Marcus Hayes: Ignore
Rich Hofmann: Trade
Dick Jerardi: Ignore
Mike Kern: Ignore
Tom Mahon: Ignore
Drew McQuade: Ignore
David Murphy: Trade
John Smallwood: Ignore
Bob Vetrone Jr.: Ignore
Deb Woodell: Trade
Totals: Ignore 10, Trade 7