What They’re Saying About Sam Bradford

The latest and loudest opinions from local and national writers on the Bradford deal.

Jordan Matthews and Sam Bradford. (Jeff Fusco)

Jordan Matthews and Sam Bradford. (Jeff Fusco)

The Eagles finally made a move on the Sam Bradford front yesterday, locking him up for two years and guaranteeing him more than $20 million.

There were plenty of takes from local writers, national pundits, and everyone in between. Our own Josh Paunil called it a “smart investment” that buys the Eagles time. We’ve compiled the best opinions.

ESPN’s brightest football mind, Bill Barnwell, doesn’t like the deal for the Eagles, so he tries to understand why it materialized.

If the Eagles wanted to add a quarterback, as much as I’m intrigued by this year’s crop of quarterback free agents, Philly might not have seen many likable options. Kirk Cousins was franchised on Tuesday. Brock Osweiler might have a hush-hush deal to go back to Denver after Peyton Manning moves on. You can understand why the Eagles might not have found high-profile options such as Peyton or Robert Griffin especially appealing. Also, the Rams have publicly suggested that they aren’t likely to trade Nick Foles, even if Philly were interested.

With new head coach Doug Pederson, it might have been a choice between Bradford and Chiefs backup Chase Daniel, whom Pederson saw on a daily basis as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City. Daniel has had buzz each time he has hit the free-agent market, and he should get a multiyear deal to serve as a backup somewhere, but he has thrown 77 regular-season passes in seven pro seasons. Daniel is certainly a high-variance option, but one person’s variance is another’s uncertainty, and NFL teams don’t do well with uncertainty. Would the Eagles rather pay a former undrafted free agent whom most of the organization hasn’t seen, such as Daniel, $6 million per year or give Bradford, a familiar face with the pedigree and athleticism of a former first overall pick, $18 million per season? If Daniel gets major reps and the Eagles crater, what’s the fallout?

NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks is unequivocal in his assessment of the Bradford deal: this is a risky move for the Eagles.

The move and the decision to commit to Bradford is without question a risky one, and potentially one that could end up costing both head coach Doug Pederson and top personnel executive Howie Roseman their jobs.

Picking a quarterback is the most important decision a head coach can make in the NFL, and very rarely do they get a second chance to commit to “their guy.”

By signing Bradford, both Pederson and Roseman have hitched their wagon to him, for better or worse.

If Bradford can reach the potential so many see in him, the Eagles will have the pocket quarterback that teams need to win in the NFL. Bradford finished last season on a high note, throwing 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in his final seven games. His completion percentage also increased, a sign that he was feeling more comfortable after missing the majority of the past two seasons with a torn ACL.

Betting on potential, however, is a risky move for the Eagles to make.

At Sports Illustrated, Doug Farrar writes that the two-year, $36 million deal is better than you might think.

Without Bradford in the fold, the Eagles were either going to have to soldier on with Mark Sanchez, try to sign Brock Osweiler or Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency, or select one of the quarterbacks in an imperfect draft class. From that standpoint, the move makes sense: Bradford is the devil the Eagles know. Perhaps Pederson has seen enough on tape and talked with Bradford enough to have a positive impression—given the initial contract numbers, it certainly appears to be the case.

The Eagles are a franchise in transition and in search of stability at the game’s most important position. From that perspective, as much as this move will be bashed on its face, I think it’s an important statement from the front office to the players that there won’t be more turnover at the head of the offense. And if the guarantees turn out to be on the team-friendly side (as they likely will), it’s worth considering this might be a better deal than you might think.

In the end, writes the Daily News’ Les Bowen, both sides gave a little in order to finally make this deal a reality.

This was a far cry from the $25 million a year Bradford’s camp was reported to be seeking during the season. It also was a really significant guarantee for a player with Bradford’s medical record, who will be working in a new offense yet again this season, with new coach Doug Pederson.

It ought to put to rest any question about whether Bradford, 28, wanted to remain an Eagle after a rough introduction.

“The player wanted to be in Philadelphia,” said a source involved in the talks, when asked what got the contract done. This served as a neat bookend to Pederson’s quote at the NFL Scouting Combine, when he said: “All I know is, if Sam wants to be in Philadelphia, he’ll be in Philadelphia.”

To the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, the Bradford deal seems to represent both the quarterback and the Eagles settling for each other, with no greater options available.

It’s difficult to say for certain who got the better of the Eagles-Sam Bradford contract without knowing the exact details, but on the surface it should satisfy two parties that had a limited number of alternatives.

The Eagles’ decision to re-sign the still-unproven Bradford to a two-year deal and the quarterback’s decision to return to a franchise with many question marks were choices made out of convenience.

Bradford to the Eagles and vice versa: “I can’t quit you.”

They aren’t exactly married to each other, but their courtship will continue for at least another year, with the possibility of more depending upon how the 28-year old performs in his seventh NFL season.

Kirk Cousins beat Sam Bradford and the Eagles in Week 16, but as ESPN’s Phil Sheridan sees it, Bradford has the edge over Cousins this offseason.

In Philadelphia in December, the Eagles had a chance to move into first place in the NFC East with a win against Washington. Bradford completed 37 of 56 passes for 380 yards and one touchdown, but Cousins led Washington to a 38-24 victory and the NFC East title.

By doing so, Cousins did something Bradford has never done: He led his team to the playoffs. That is one reason that Washington felt compelled to use the franchise tag on him. Another is that apparently the team didn’t feel it was making good enough progress on a long-term deal.

Players don’t generally like the franchise tag. The Eagles twice tagged players who were upset enough that the team rescinded the tag. Twice, the players (Jeremiah Trotter and Corey Simon) signed with other teams.

The Eagles worked out a contract with Bradford on Tuesday, just before the deadline for applying the tag. The two-year deal could pay Bradford $36 million, and at least $25 million of that total is guaranteed.

Bradford isn’t anything special when it comes to quarterbacks, writes Business Insider’s Cork Gaines, but he’s always been in the right place at the right time, financially.

Six years later, Bradford has finally finished his rookie contract, having earned every penny of the $78 million contract, and Bradford couldn’t have become a free agent at a better time.

At best, Bradford is a mediocre quarterback. At worst, he is a bottom-5 starter in the league, according to some measures. But that’s OK in the NFL because there is such a dearth of quality quarterbacks. Because of that alone, there is a market for a quarterback like Bradford who at least brings some experience and potential.

But more importantly, Bradford is a free agent QB with potential, playing for a team without any other options, and at a time when the salary cap is once again starting to skyrocket. After years of growth, the NFL reined in the salary cap with the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Five years later, the cap is on the rise.

Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes sees the Bradford deal as Howie Roseman restoring stability after the restless, chaotic Chip Kelly era.

Disregard Bradford’s talent and progress in 2015 if you like, but acknowledge, at least, that by December the team was his. Bradford might not be Aaron Rodgers. He might peak somewhere around Alex Smith.

He might not be worth a full $18 million per season. There might have been no other real suitors when free agency effectively starts Monday, and so the Eagles might have been bidding against themselves. They might have saved themselves $3 million per year.

Keeping Bradford is worth $3 million. Call it free agency insurance.