The timing of the Sam Bradford trade is not ideal. Circumstances dictated that. But the deal makes perfect sense for both teams and for (almost) all of the quarterbacks affected.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded Bradford on Saturday to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round draft choice next year and a fourth-round selection in 2018. The Vikings get a starter to replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater, while the Eagles bring some clarity to a muddled quarterback situation and could be ready to hand their team over immediately to prized rookie Carson Wentz.
With eight days before the opening Sunday of the NFL season, Bradford must adjust quickly. But as he said in the Eagles’ training camp last month, he has seen plenty of change in his NFL career. He has been part of a good number of offenses, and adapting has become a forced habit.
Bradford gets his wish, albeit on a delayed basis. Bradford, after re-signing with the Eagles early in the offseason, sought a trade and temporarily stayed away from the team’s offseason activities following Philadelphia’s trade up in the NFL draft to select North Dakota State’s Wentz with the No. 2 overall pick. The goal then by Bradford’s camp, it appeared, was to attempt to get Bradford to Denver, where he would have inherited the starting job on a defending Super Bowl champion with an overwhelmingly terrific Broncos defense to support him.
It didn’t happen then, with the Eagles holding steadfastly at that point to their plan to have Bradford as their starter-for-now while Wentz could make the transition from small-college football to the NFL at his own, non-pressured pace. Bradford relented and rejoined the Eagles during the offseason. He went through training camp and the preseason as the starter with the Eagles’ plan seemingly intact.
Wentz suffered a hairline rib fracture during the preseason, which at the time seemed to eliminate him from being an option for the Eagles’ first-year coach, Doug Pederson, if Bradford were to get hurt or struggle early in the season. But Pederson also had Chase Daniel, the steady veteran backup who’d been with him in Kansas City when Pederson was a Chiefs assistant, as an option.
Everything changed when Bridgewater suffered a dislocated left knee and torn anterior cruciate ligament on the practice field. The Vikings, after winning the NFC North last season and coming within a missed field goal of beating Seattle in a first-round postseason game, had realistic hopes of being a top NFC contender this season. But those hopes rested on Bridgewater, who reached the Pro Bowl last season as a second-year pro, continuing to develop as a pocket passer to complement the running of tailback Adrian Peterson.
Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer vowed after Bridgewater’s injury that the team still would find ways to win. But while veteran backup Shaun Hill was fine as a short-term replacement, he didn’t seem capable of being a successful starter over an entire season for a team with such lofty goals. The Vikings needed to do better. And now they have. The price was high. But the Vikings are in win-now mode and Peterson is not getting any younger.
Will they potentially have one too many starting quarterbacks next season? Perhaps. But the Vikings can worry about that if and when it happens. They have said that Bridgewater is expected to make a full recovery. But there is no firm timetable for that. Bridgewater remains the future in Minnesota. But Bradford is now the present. It’s a better arrangement for Bradford than he had in Philadelphia.
There were reports Saturday by several media outlets, including ESPN, that Wentz is expected to start the Eagles’ season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 11 if he is healthy enough to do so. That undoubtedly comes as unwelcome news to Daniel, given the initial thought Saturday that he was in line to start until Wentz was completely healed and fully ready.
But it always was clear that Wentz would get his chance at some point, whenever he was deemed ready for it. Bradford knew that, which is why he wanted out. The Eagles’ quarterback of the future got quite a bit closer Saturday to being their quarterback of the present. It could happen right now. If it doesn’t, it clearly will happen very soon. And the franchise emerged with some future draft-pick assets to attempt to put a better team around Wentz.