Saturday, September 3, 2016

Five Points About The Sam Bradford Trade

Consider It Gotten
Shocker of a deal today, but probably shouldn't be a shocker. Let's get into it.

5) Perhaps the most amazing thing about this trade is the price: the Vikings first next year, and their fourth the year after. So the Eagles managed to turn around what looked like a terrible sunk cost for Bradford to the Rams (a fourth in 2016 and a second this year) and actually get more from this asset, just for keeping Bradford relatively healthy for a year, and finding a franchise that wasn't willing to take a year of lumps following the injury to their own QB1. If you'd like to compliment GM Howie Roseman hard on the return on investment, feel free.

4) There's an undercurrent in my Twitter feed that the Eagle skill position players who have been fantasy relevant -- RB Ryan Mathews, WR Jordan Matthews, and TE Zach Ertz -- will be unaffected, because new QB1 Chase Daniel knows HC Doug Pederson's system so well.

Um, yeah. Having actually watched Daniel play, color me not so impressed. Plus, having actually watched NFL football for decades, I'm also pretty damned sure that knowing an offensive system is no substitute for, well, arm strength, touch, height, mobility, etc. Daniel is a caretaker / checkdown enthusiast / mild runner who holds the ball too long and shows nothing special. Any game where he plays where the Eagle passing offense gets to 200 yards is going to be an upset, regardless of the opponent.

3) Bradford, assuming health -- which is a crazy thing to assume with him, but so be it -- should be what the Vikings need, which is a guy that prevents them from losing all hope for the season. The fact that his lifetime quarterback rating is actually lower than the man he presumably replaces (Shaun Hill) will be something you see on any number of tweets and pre-game shows, but when Bradford is good, the accuracy is top shelf. The problem is that health can't be assumed, he's not mobile at all, and he's already been through two or three careers worth of changes around him, at coordinator, with personnel, etc. He's got no faith in anyone or anything at this point, which means he plays not to lose. You can't be a top-tier QB with that mindset, and it's not as if Minnesota's WRs have anyone in the Calvin Johnson class to make him start believing in deeper throws. He might keep the job if QB Teddy Bridgewater can't rehab with speed, but that seems unlikely. At least he gets a home dome to throw in this year. But in terms of career arc, Team 3 for QB is not exactly the path to Canton.

2) Not to put too fine a point on this, but Roseman's efforts to purge the roster of everyone and everything that says Nero Kelly about it is hard-core. Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso -- these were not small pieces or small moves, or players that had exorbitant salaries or age issues. I wouldn't be completely shocked if they hand last year's first round pick, WR Nelson Agholor, his walking papers on final roster cuts (it's not as if he's done anything since being drafted that merits a job), despite the team's weakness outside. CB Eric Rowe, a high Kelly pick, can't get on the field in pre-season ahead of UDFA CJ Smith, and might be cut. Assuming Lane Johnson's 10-game suspension for PEDs is upheld, that guy might be gone sooner rather than later, too. Because...

1) If you liked what Sam Hinkie did with the Sixers, you're probably completely down with what Rosemen is doing here. The Eagles with Bradford had a chance at 10 wins, because (a) the defense has looked better, (b) Bradford has moments of QB1 level competence, and (c) the division is a dumpster fire... but they weren't winning a playoff game, and that was the absolute ceiling on the team.

Now? The ceiling might be 6 wins. The floor might be 2. Daniel isn't good, QB of the Increasingly Near Future Carson Wentz isn't ready, and no defense in the NFL is good enough to win with 17 points or less a game, which is what this offense will be very hard-pressed to deliver. The passing game won't stretch the field, the line isn't good enough to win against packed boxes, and it's not as if Pederson's coming to town with some Kelly-esque cheap tempo tricks to goose offense out of garbage. If they draft outside of the top 10 in 2017, I'm an airplane, and if they take anything other than Best Available Tackle or Absolute Game Breaker WR, Roseman is high.

But that's all actually OK, so long as we get to Wentz soon, and he's able to somehow stay healthy and shows signs of being The Man Later. Because if you can combine that high pick with a good one from Minny -- and it's not as if Bradford guarantees that club a playoff spot -- both of the big holes on offense are solved. If Wentz develops, the reboot happens quickly, and you can win with ordinary RBs. Maybe the defense jells a little bit, now that they have a defensive coordinator (Jim Schwartz) who doesn't seem under-qualified and clueless.

Because that's the hard thing about tanking in the NFL. You don't get to do it for more than a year at most, because every rebuilding plan is an injury or two away from disaster.

Addendum -- Turns out the second pick in the deal is performance contingent, so if Bradford does well for Minny, it could be a 2 or a 3. Deal just got even better for Philly.

Addendum 2 -- I have, of course, blown my assessment of the situation, in that I've forgotten that the Eagles' 1st rounder next year is Cleveland's as part of the Wentz deal. Oh well; point still stands, just with the second round pick.

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