By YOUSEF NASSER
The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to trade starting quarterback Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first round draft pick in 2017 and a conditional fourth round draft pick in 2018.
The Vikings lost their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to a dislocated knee and a torn ACL in a non-contact drill on Tuesday, Aug. 30, just 12 days before their season starts on Sept. 11 against the Tennessee Titans.
Career backup quarterback Shaun Hill was slated to replace Bridgewater before the trade to acquire Bradford. It is expected that Bradford will be ready to play as early as Week 2 on Sunday night in the Vikings home opener against their division rival, the Green Bay Packers.
The Vikings were a team that was viewed as having legitimate championship aspirations before the Bridgewater injury. Their hope is that the addition of Bradford will keep that championship window open and gives them an opportunity to compete for their division and make a run in the playoffs.
Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2008, an award given to the nation’s best college football player. Despite his collegiate success and his draft pedigree, Bradford has experienced an injury-prone, star-crossed career. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2010 but has a career record of 25-37- 1, missing 33 of a possible 96 games to injury and has never played in a playoff game.
In that regard, investing two draft picks to acquire Bradford could be viewed as a risky proposition for a team looking to compete for a Super Bowl. However, Bradford’s familiarity with Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, who he played with at Oklahoma, might help to mitigate the acclimation process.
“When I was at Oklahoma, it was my first year and Adrian was someone that I really looked up to,” Bradford said. “We were in the same workout group that summer and I just remember watching his workout and the way that he approached the game and the way he handled himself and he really kind of set the bar for everyone at Oklahoma and he’s someone that I’ve looked up to from college and even into the pros.”
Another member of the Vikings with whom Bradford has familiarity with coach Pat Shurmur, who was his offensive coordinator with both the Rams and the Eagles.
“We go way back, he was obviously the offensive coordinator in St. Louis when they drafted me and then he was with me in Philadelphia last year in the same position and me and [Shurmur] have a great relationship,” Bradford said. “You know, we’ve spent a lot of time together, I think he knows me really well, as a player, as a quarterback, what I like, you know, things that we’ve done in the past so really excited to get to work with him and see him again.”
For the Eagles, the trade accomplishes two things: it gives them the opportunity to evaluate their young quarterback of the future, Carson Wentz, this year while giving them an opportunity to replenish their future draft capital, much of which had been used to acquire Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. This is important because while the Eagles are stocked with young talent in some areas, they have holes, particularly at the offensive skill positions and the defensive secondary.
The Eagles traded a total of five draft picks, including their first round pick in 2017 and their second round pick in 2018, to the Cleveland Browns for the second overall pick in 2016, which they used to select Wentz, as well an additional fourth round pick in 2017. Given the investment they made in acquiring Wentz, it made Bradford, the incumbent quarterback, a lame duck. Under normal circumstances, Bradford’s lame duck status would make it hard for the Eagles to get value for him in a trade.
However, because of the Bridgewater injury, the Eagles were able to leverage the Vikings need for a competent starting quarterback and parlayed it into a pretty significant haul.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman asserted that while trading Bradford was not planned, it was an opportunity that the Eagles could not pass up. “Our plan wasn’t to trade Sam Bradford,” Roseman said. “We felt like this was an opportunity for us, not only now, but going forward, that we had to take advantage of.”
The Sam Bradford trade is a rare case of trade where it could be made that both sides won the deal. The Vikings have an opportunity to remain competitive with a competent starting quarterback in Bradford while the Eagles can begin to assess Wentz and determine how they can best build around him for the future.