Welcome to mid-December, where, when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles, we never run out of issues.
Just this week, as the Birds prepare to play the highly potent Arizona Cardinals, there were two more: the possible contract extension of quarterback Sam Bradford, and the reduced playing time of $8 million running back DeMarco Murray.
We’ll explore those issues one at a time.
ISSUE ONE. Bradford. This week, the quarterback was pressed (sort or) about a future contract with the Eagles. Now the “A” answer to a question such as “would you like to re-sign here as the Eagles quarterback” is “Sure, I’d like to stay here, and grow with this team, but that stuff will take care of itself at the end of the year because football really is a business.” Instead, Bradford appeared non-committal to anything Philadelphia, even when questioned on whether he liked it here. To that question, he said some things that all but suggested he’d be more more comfortable almost anywhere else.
But the issue really isn’t whether Sam Bradford wants to stay here. The issue is whether it’s appropriate to commit big dollars to a Bradford, who at best will preside over a division-winning Eagles team with an 8-8 record. Considering that quarterbacks such as Jay Cutler make about $18 million a year, with about $40 million guaranteed in a multi-year contract, the going rate may scare the Eagles front office a little bit. I can tell you from sports talk radio that fans are certainly scared about that kind of price tag for a guy who’s been pretty much mediocre and injury prone.
But what is the alternative? If the Eagles get into the playoffs, can they possibly cut ties with the quarterback who would have likely gotten them there — even with that mediocre record? Would they cut loose from Bradford and pursue a quarterback such as deposed 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick? The Eagles don’t have a second-round pick this year to barter (they paid that for Bradford, ironically). Do they draft a quarterback with their first-round pick? If they make the playoffs, the first four ranked quarterbacks in the draft will likely be gone, meaning the Eagles would have to grab a signal caller in the third round, and groom him under some lower-level free agent signee.
The above circumstance makes Bradford’s non-committal answers even larger.
ISSUE TWO. Murray. Chip Kelly was asked on Thursday whether he felt any pressure to play the halfback more considering he makes a lot of money and was the second most-prized free agent signee. The coach said he has never paid much attention to the specific needs of the individual over the team. The sounds swell, if you’re coaching Pop Warner, or even college kids. NFL players pay attention to a comment like that and if Kelly isn’t willing to acknowledge that Murray gets paid for a living, and get special consideration for that, then how are other players supposed to feel special and want to run through walls for their coach.
It is a tangled web the Eagles weave.