PRETEND, FOR a moment, that this conversation between Sam Bradford and his agent occurred this offseason.
Agent: Let's talk about how we are going to approach free agency.
Bradford: I want to stay with the Eagles.
Agent: That's definitely an option, but they're hesitant to go beyond two years. Let's talk about what else could be out there.
Bradford: I don't really care about what else is out there. I like what I heard from Doug, Howie and Mr. Lurie when we sat down and talked. I really feel like this is the place for me. They've got a good plan. I really feel like this thing is headed in the right direction.
Agent: Look, I get it. We've got no reason to assume they're operating in bad faith, but they're refusing to go any longer than two years.
Bradford: Honestly, it really doesn't matter to me. With my injury history, it's understandable. As long as I play like I know I'm capable of, it will work itself out. I already got my big deal. I want to go where I have the best chance of succeeding, and I really think that's here. And from everything they've said, they feel the same way. So let's get this done so I can get Matthews and Ertz out here to work out.
Agent: Your wish is my command.
Bradford: Great. Now, which do you think would look better as a tattoo: the Philly skyline, or the Eagles logo?
Here's my read on Bradford after a year of watching him interact with people and answer questions: He genuinely does not pay attention to much that happens off the field. Blissfully unaware is how I'd describe him. In the middle of the season, somebody asked him whether he was open to signing a contract extension to stay in Philly long-term. He answered in a way that many people interpreted as lukewarm or evasive, and for the next several days those same people assumed that his response indicated that he was not too thrilled with A) the city, B) the coach, C) the scrutiny.
As it turned out, Bradford was simply being Bradford: honest, deferential, spotlight avoidant. He legitimately was not thinking about anything beyond 2015, and he was not aware that the rest of the city was thinking about it to the point of working itself up into a lather. I remember vividly the first time I saw him get his first taste of the Philadelphia media crush. It was minicamp, and 20 or 30 reporters were surrounding him on a practice field at the NovaCare Complex, peppering him with questions about his knee. Each time somebody asked something specific about his knee - How does it compare to last time? Is there soreness? What does it feel like? On a scale of 1 to 10 . . . ? - Bradford had a quizical look on his face that seemed to say, "Who are all these people and why do they seem to be thinking more about my knee than I am?"
Flash forward to the press conference Bradford held after he signed his two-year contract extension, the aforementioned conversation was a rough approximation of what I imagined actually went down between Bradford and Tom Condon. Throughout the Q and A session, reporters asked Bradford if he had any trepidation that his contract wasn't a longer-term deal. His reaction was similar to his reaction to the questions about his knee: I told you guys I wanted to be here, they told me they wanted me here, I signed a contract, and now I am here. That's really all that matters to me.
Earlier this month, he had a similar reaction to questions about the Eagles drafting a quarterback. He talked like a guy who legitimately believed any questions about his immediate future were behind him. Hey, if they draft a quarterback, they draft a quarterback. I'm here, and that's all that matters.
That is to say that Bradford has always struck me as a guy who did not pay any attention to the noise. He's not a simpleton. But he also isn't a hardened cynic. Really, he's never had any reason to pay attention to the business side of things. People say he should've known the Eagles weren't committed to him, but if the Eagles said they were committed to winning with him, and that was good enough for Bradford, what does that say about the rest of us who won't trust anything that isn't laid out in contract form?
The reaction to Bradford's reaction to the Eagles' trade for the No. 2 pick has been similar to the reaction to Donovan McNabb's reaction to the Eagles selecting Kevin Kolb in the second round. And, just like that situation, I think that a lot of us are missing the real issue. If Carson Wentz had fallen to No. 8 and the Eagles had drafted him there, I think Bradford would have reacted as Bradford tends to react to most things (at least in public). Hey, they never told me they weren't going to draft a quarterback. I'm here, and that's all that matters.
The real issue is that the Eagles almost certainly told Bradford that they were going to do everything in their power to win the Super Bowl over the next couple of years, the same way they insisted to McNabb that they were doing everything in their power to get over the hump. With McNabb, the issue wasn't the notion that the Eagles were attempting to replace him. It was the reality that the Eagles used a second-round draft pick to improve the quarterback position rather than using it to improve a position that might have helped their current quarterback and his teammates win football games in the immediate future.
Now, think about it from Bradford's perspective. Not only did the Eagles pass on the chance to add a blue-chip player who would have helped them compete for the playoffs in 2016, they decided to forfeit three other draft picks that would have had a chance to do the same. That, right there, is where the breach of faith occurred.
Eagles: Sam, Doug likes you, Howie likes you, all of us thought you played really well down the stretch. We're not rebuilding. We're going to compete for championships, and we're excited about what 2016 holds in store.
Bradford: Sounds great. I'll have my people talk to your people.
One month later . . .
Eagles: Hey, Sam, we're going to trade all of our draft picks for a quarterback instead of adding a wide receiver or running back or offensive lineman.
Bradford: So you think quarterback is that big of a need?
Eagles: No, not at all.
Bradford: Then why not use those picks to bring in some help so we have a fighting chance?
Eagles: Trust us, Sam. Watch Howie's press conference. He named you the starting quarterback before he even took a question. We're cool, right?
Bradford: I've got one question.
Eagles: Sure, Sam. Anything for you.
Bradford: Do you know of any good tattoo removal places in the area?