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Eagles teammates not worried about Bradford

Jordan Matthews flew to Oklahoma in March to spend a week with Sam Bradford. He works each day with Bradford and invested in a relationship with the quarterback whose performance helps dictate Matthews' livelihood.

Jordan Matthews flew to Oklahoma in March to spend a week with Sam Bradford. He works each day with Bradford and invested in a relationship with the quarterback whose performance helps dictate Matthews' livelihood.

So Matthews offered a message for anyone who might object to Bradford's taking two weeks away from the team and requesting a trade after the Eagles acquired the No. 2 pick to select Carson Wentz.

"If I'm cool with it, then everybody should be cool with it," Matthews said. "I'm still running for his butt. You know what I'm saying? Look, if I want to be here, and I'm happy with it, and we can go out there and just compete, that's all I want to focus on. That's all that matters."

Bradford said he found acceptance in the Eagles locker room. Teammates distinguish what is business from what is personal. While Eagles fans might feel affronted by someone who did not want to be on the team, the players maintained a more nuanced perspective.

When a veteran is released before his contract expires or he's traded from a place he signed to play, safety Malcolm Jenkins said, teammates don't get a say in the decision. Jenkins insisted it's not his place to interfere - or even opine - on the business of a teammate.

"I think you learn it after Year 2 when you see . . . first-round draft picks get cut. You see each week they're working out new guys. You see veterans that are franchise players get cut," Jenkins said. "You realize nobody is safe in the business. And that's what it is: a business."

When Jenkins played in New Orleans, franchise quarterback Drew Brees missed the 2012 offseason program in a contract dispute. He remains the face of the franchise. Plus, Bradford is not the only one who was absent this spring. Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles have both been elsewhere, and Cox is in pursuit of a long-term deal. Defensive end Brandon Graham said the offseason is for business, and attention shifts during the season.

"When guys walk in the door, no one's focused on the business sort of things," tight end Zach Ertz said. "When Fletch comes back, no one's going to hold grudges because he wasn't here. Or Darren. Or whatever the case may be. Going through the offseason this year and going through my contract [extension], you kind of get an understanding for the business side of football."

Ertz emphasized that Bradford missed only seven days. Asked if the team held a meeting upon his return, Ertz said there was no need to do so for a player who was absent for seven voluntary workouts. Ertz said everyone might not agree with how Bradford went about the last two weeks, but the players don't judge him.

One opinion presented by Tom Condon, Bradford's agent, was that his teammates would view him as a short-term quarterback and that it would affect Bradford's ability to lead. That did not carry much weight with the teammates interviewed Tuesday, who seemed to care far more about the short term than anything that will happen beyond.

"Whoever our first-string quarterback against Cleveland is, is who we will put all our chips on the table for," Ertz said. "I'm not going to go run routes any less for Sam or Carson because I'm worried about the future of this team. I'm worried about winning games. You look at it from an organization standpoint. We don't even have a first-round pick next year. So we're not focused on the future."

Players stayed away from how they would have handled that situation, and Ertz conceded that not everyone might agree with how Bradford went about it. Matthews said he might be concerned about Bradford's approach if Bradford had a different personality, but Bradford is not one who would infect the locker room. Graham said Bradford is "all work," and Matthews said, "You really can't tell what's going on with Sam."

Matthews thinks that his personality is what will eventually help Bradford with fans. He won't try to talk his way into forgiveness.

"Everything is forgiven if you win," Matthews said. "It helps that Sam is the way he is. He's quiet. He's calm. . . . For Sam, with his whole situation, if you want to fix it, go out there and win."

The same can be said in the locker room. Like Ertz said, the Eagles' concern is who can help them win in 2016, not who will quarterback the team in 2017. Echoing the sentiment Bradford expressed Tuesday, the teammates are not "completely naïve." They understand the quarterback position will change. But for many in the locker room, the coach has changed, and the stars on the roster have been replaced. Such is the business of the NFL.

"Once the pads come on, Sam's not going to be going back and thinking, 'What if?' " Matthews said. He's going to be ready to win the freaking football game. Let's be completely honest. He's not the only one in the NFL who's looked for situations where they can find more money or better their situation."