Eagles Wake-Up Call: Thoughts On the Bradford Trade

Sam Bradford. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Sam Bradford. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

For about two hours there — between the time news of the Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade broke and the accompanying draft pick compensation came to light — it appeared that Chip Kelly was well on his way to executing The Plan.

An inaccurate graphic served as rocket fuel for the thought that the Eagles, by giving away their promising young quarterback for an oft-injured signal caller with a $13 million price tag attached to him, had moved up and secured the No. 10  spot in the upcoming draft. Suddenly, Marcus Mariota was within reach and the vision was starting to take form.

Then reality hit. Not only were the Eagles not getting the Rams’ first-round pick, they were sending out a fourth and a second rounder and getting just a fifth in return. (A conditional pick comes back to the Eagles in ’16 if Bradford is unable to stay on the field.)

What the hell?

Shock and denial quickly flipped to rationalization: This is just the first step in a two-part move. Maybe one of the top teams in the draft wants Bradford but not Foles, and this is Kelly compiling an attractive package that will allow him to jump from 2o to 2 or 20 to 6 or 20 to wherever Mariota can be had. There are reports that help support this theory, like Jason Cole’s (via BGN):

“This is really fascinating because there are teams that are sitting at the top of the draft, according to executives that I’ve talked to, who would believe that they would prefer to have Sam Bradford, who’s 27 and coming off basically missing the last year and a half of his career — that they would rather have then take a chance on, say, somebody like Marcus Mariota or Jamies Winston because they have seen what Bradford can do. One caveat to this is: is Bradford healthy or not coming off of two ACL surgeries? But the belief is: take a shot with Bradford and save your first round draft pick and take somebody else.”

But if  Bradford can help catapult you to the top of the draft, wouldn’t the Rams use him to get into a position to take Mariota or Jameis Winston themselves? Perhaps they aren’t sold on the young QBs, and really like Foles. There are a couple ways to try and justify it, but there is plenty of “if-then” to that game.

The most straightforward explanation at this point is that Kelly has eyes for Bradford. The team’s website is certainly pushing that notion.

And so a deal was done on Tuesday, one that brings to Philadelphia the quarterback that head coach Chip Kelly wants. He wanted Sam Bradford. He identified Sam Bradford as a special talent who can make this offense soar…

Sam Bradford is the quarterback Kelly thinks can operate this offense to maximum efficiency. That’s why he is an Eagle today.

It will be interesting to find out exactly what Kelly sees in him. He believes firmly in the “availability is the best ability” mantra, yet Bradford has a significant injury history that includes two ACL tears in the last two years. He values “repetitive accuracy” but Bradford has a career completion rate of 58.6. The coaching staff has insisted that a quarterback should be judged based off wins and losses, yet Bradford has a career record of 18-30-1. Foles has a 15-9 mark, including 14-4 over the past two years under Kelly.

Some of that success is because of Kelly, no doubt. Foles put up crazy numbers is 2013 and Mark Sanchez set career highs in completion rate and yards per attempt last season in part because of the system they were operating in. Maybe Bradford, who has not exactly been playing under the best of circumstances to date, can thrive under the mentorship of Kelly. At the same time, we have learned that Kelly is far from a cure-all. Sanchez threw 11 picks and went 4-4 as a starter in this system. Michael Vick completed 55 percent of his throws and went 2-4 under Kelly. Foles, then, is the only one that has a winning record for Kelly so far on the pro level.

He’s gone, and Bradford’s in. The former No. 1 overall pick has not lived up to expectations in his five years in the league, and has played a total of just seven games over the past two years because of injury. Maybe this is a temporary pairing. Could be that Kelly sees him as just a chip that will help get him closer to a reunion with his real love.

Or, Kelly might see a deep well of untapped potential, and believes a little sports science here and a little coaching there will result in a healthy, productive Sam Bradford. We might have to stop waiting for The Plan to take shape and realize that this is The Plan, crazy as it may seem.


“If he was going to trade me, just let me know, I mean, as a man.” LeSean McCoy and Kiko Alonso speak.

Sheil with details of the Foles-Bradford trade.

We tried to keep up with all of Tuesday’s madness right here.


Jeff McLane weighs in on the trade.

It’s difficult to form any solid conclusions without Kelly’s input, but he hasn’t spoken since the end of season and since he wrestled power from Roseman. Kelly is not required to talk until the NFL owners meetings in two weeks.

Kelly, from all appearances, intends for a healthy Bradford to be his starting quarterback. The Eagles re-signed Mark Sanchez to a two-year contract that has enough provisions for him to “compete” for the starting job or in case Bradford gets sidelined again.

But Bradford comes with a hefty price tag – $12.9 million in the final year of his contract – and currently counts more than any other Eagles player against the salary cap. It’s his job to lose. Most teams after acquiring a starting quarterback offer a good-faith contract extension, but can Kelly afford to take that risk?

Reuben Frank isn’t sold based on the moves to date.

The Eagles keep asking us to trust Kelly, but it’s getting harder and harder to do it.

It’s only March 10, and there are more moves to come, and there’s the rest of free agency and the draft and trades, and I’m always the one preaching patience half a year before opening day.

But I can’t comprehend how a team without DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles is better than one with them.


With this man in charge, I have no idea.