Bradford Notes: Pederson Plays Key Role

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

Doug Pederson played a significant role in selling Sam Bradford on the idea of re-signing with the Eagles, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

“Pederson was able to get (Bradford) to believe that Philadelphia was a place for him to thrive,” one source said.  Another added that Pederson’s efforts “absolutely helped” get Bradford back under contract.

That Bradford would need some convincing would be understandable given the uncertainty about the direction of the organization after a turbulent season that ended with Chip Kelly — the man that traded for Bradford — getting axed with a game to play, and lines up with some of what we were hearing at the onset of the offseason.

Asked at the close of the 2015 campaign if he wanted to return to Philly, Bradford responded”yeah” but offered the caveat that “a lot of it depends on who they hire as a coach and what kind of offensive scheme he wants to run.”

Through private conversations with the quarterback (as well as public endorsements), Pederson was able to help Bradford feel good about both his place on the team and where things were headed in Philly, and comfortable with how he would fit in the offense.

Now, everything in its proper context. It appears there wasn’t much of a market for Bradford. The fact that Tom Condon — one of the toughest negotiators in the business — didn’t take Bradford to free agency suggests to me that he didn’t feel it would help his leverage. If there were other suitors willing to pay Bradford veteran starter money out there, seems like a no-brainer to introduce them into the equation to play one off the other. That didn’t happen.

If a team like Houston was in pursuit, say, maybe Bradford jets. So we shouldn’t go crazy about Pederson’s powers of persuasion. That said, I don’t think Bradford willingly signs here without a certain degree of peace of mind about the state of the team. To that end, the rookie head coach deserves some credit for putting the QB at ease.

Considering DeMarco

Judging by the support Bradford received leading up to the signing and the reaction once it became official, it’s safe to say that the majority of Eagles players are pretty happy about this development.

It’s important that players understand, support and feel part of the organizational vision. As we saw last season, when key guys turn into skeptics or feel marginalized, bad things happen.

DeMarco Murray certainly fell into that camp last season. And recent reports suggest a level of unrest remains despite the regime change.

Here’s our read on that: Last year was a rough introduction to this team and this city. There was a ton of optimism and a handful of promises at the time of the signing, and reality fell way short of both. A whole lot of pride-swallowing went on over those 17 weeks, and the taste from that still lingers.

What’s more, Murray is 28-years old, he’s logged over 1,100 carries over his career and knows the window is a small one in the NFL — particularly for backs. He wants to play for a contender. It’s fair to say that he had concerns as to whether the Eagles qualified as one, especially given the question mark at quarterback.

Does it impact Murray’s mindset knowing that Bradford — his old roommate at Oklahoma — is back in the fold, helping to clear up a cloudy quarterback picture?

“No doubt,” said a source familiar with the running back’s thinking.

Not that this should be viewed as some sort of cure-all.

Murray would probably still welcome a trade to an upper-echelon team, and the Eagles likely wouldn’t mind unloading the back, who carries a fully-guaranteed base salary of $7 million this season. But negotiating a split this year won’t be easy, which means that they may have to find a way to make the most of being paired with one another in ’16. The presence of Bradford could help in that respect from Murray’s side.

Overall thoughts

Like many, I view this as a good deal for both sides. The Eagles get to put their best foot forward in ’16, have the option to hold onto Bradford for at least an additional year if things go well and have an escape hatch should the plan go to hell or if the QB of the future emerges.

The use of that escape hatch would mean Bradford banks $22 million for one year of service. If he’s a hit, the Eagles can keep him under contract for ’17 for a cool $18 mil or re-work a deal to avoid a large impending cap hit. Either way, Bradford continues to come out a winner in the financial game of football.

So a good contract all around in my opinion. And good on Howie Roseman for backing a quarterback that was not his own. With Kelly, it felt at times that he was parting with players just because they were Roseman/Andy Reid guys. Given the adversarial relationship that developed, things could have devolved to the point where Roseman returned serve. But he recognized that Bradford was their top option at present, and made a commitment that had the franchise’s best interests in mind.