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I Did a Bunch of Shrooms and Now I Think I Understand the Sam Bradford Trade

sambradford

Just kidding about the title. I’m not really into drugs. I just think a lot of moves in the NFL only make sense if you assume that the decision makers involved were on drugs at the time (no offense Jim Irsay).

Eagles Get Rams Get
Sam Bradford Nick Foles
Roughly $13MM Bradford contract Roughly $1.3MM contract
2015 5th round pick 2015 4th round pick
2016 2nd round pick
*2016 4th round pick if Bradford plays fewer than 50% of snaps; 2016 3rd round pick if Bradford doesn’t play at all

Drugs are the only explanation I can come up with for the Sam Bradford to Philly trade. Let me get the caveats out of the way.

Yes, Chip Kelly is probably an offensive genius. Yes, he can probably mold his offense to fit lots of different kinds of quarterbacks, which is a novel idea inside the NFL.

But that’s why I don’t understand the trade at all. Why give up a potential future second round pick in order to get a guy who might not be as good as the player you’re giving up (Nick Foles), and who is making lots more money than the player you’re giving up? They’re also going to have to extend Bradford for the trade to have any lasting benefit. The Eagles either have to extend Bradford before they see him run the offense, or they’ll have to have a contract discussion with him after he’s had some success in that offense.

Kelly has abandoned any idea of getting a discount or cushion in the case he’s wrong. This is something of a high leverage move. It’s definitely not a “can’t go wrong because they didn’t give anything up” move. That potential future second round pick is worth something and the only way that Bradford is worth something is if they both restructure his contract – AND – he’s lots better in Philadelphia than he was in St. Louis.

On Twitter I said that Chip Kelly is like your buddy that gets drunk enough he thinks he can throw darts left-handed. Maybe he can. But he could also throw right-handed.

I’m probably among the world’s foremost Sam Bradford apologists. I think it’s difficult to make a judgment about him given the circumstances of his career. But I also wouldn’t go and give up something valuable for him under those circumstances. I would rather try to get him for free, or similar. When the trade was first announced yesterday it sounded like the Eagles were going to be getting the second round pick. That made sense. This doesn’t make any sense.

Let me carve out some areas where I would like a mulligan on my take if they materialize. If the Eagles turn around and trade Bradford for anything then I guess that changes things. Chip Kelly is now actually saying that he’s been offered a first round pick for Bradford. That seems like a dubious claim to me. Why didn’t that team just offer the first round pick to the Rams? Why would you offer a first round pick for a guy who is maybe the median outcome for a first round pick and also who you can’t get on a rookie salary? Again, the only explanation is drugs.

I can totally understand if Kelly thinks that Bradford is the QB to run his offense. The thing that I think is tougher to understand is how the Eagles didn’t leave themselves any margin of safety to be wrong. Because Bradford is in a contract year almost all benefit of the potential that he plays well is going to be eradicated by his resulting salary. This is the same thing we’ve seen with Joe Flacco and other marginal QBs signed to contracts that pay them so much that the teams involved don’t have any positive equity. The only way the Eagles can avoid that is to re-do his contract right now in a “pay as you go” structure at an amount that Bradford would feel comfortable signing.

I’m still really rooting for the Chip Kelly experiment to be a success because he’s something of a breath of fresh air in the stuffy slow moving NFL. But this is a move that looks like a lot of other moves we’ve seen in the NFL where the actors involved are so certain of the outcome that they don’t leave themselves room to be wrong. I should maybe clarify that when I say “no room to be wrong” I don’t mean that a negative outcome will sink the franchise. I mean that only if things go perfectly as they envision will a positive outcome be possible. If the Eagles cut Bradford in a year they will have paid him $13 million and will have also hurt themselves in the way of draft picks. Again, that’s all to experiment with a guy that  might be as good as the guy they’re giving up.

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