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Dec 12

THE SAM BRADFORD DILEMMA

Sam Bradford was the last #1 pick to truly hit the lottery.  2010s #1 overall selection, his 6-year/$78 million contract included $50 million in guaranteed money.

Unfortunately for the NFL Draft’s subsequent top selections, the 2011 CBA included the implementation of rookie wage scale. Both the owners and veteran players had been fed up with unproven rookies making such absurd amounts of money.

Four years into Sam Bradford’s career (his 2013 campaign ended when he tore his ACL in November), and he’s one of many poster children for why a rookie wage scale makes sense.  Although injuries, poor offensive-line play and a lack of talented skill position players have all played their role, Bradford remains unproven.

A 2-14 2011 season gave the Rams the #2 overall selection in the 2012 draft, as well as the opportunity to take QB Robert Griffin III.  But cutting bait on Bradford was never really an option at that point for St. Louis.  They had just drafted him two years earlier, which not only meant that the jury remained out on him, but also that they still owed him a lot of money—his 2012 & 2013 salaries were both fully guaranteed.

Sam Bradford (QB) 11/8/87 (26 years old)–Contract Details

bradforddeal

 

So the Rams held on to Bradford while accumulating a heap of draft picks in their draft day trade with the Redskins. And somehow, two years later, they find themselves in a jarringly similar position.

The Rams own Washington’s 2014 first round pick, which is currently the 2nd overall selection with three weeks left in the regular season.  The difference this time around is that cutting ties with Bradford would only result in about $7 million in dead money, whereas doing so two years ago would have amounted to almost $33 million in dead money.  Moreover, Bradford wasn’t rehabbing a torn ACL at this point two years ago. And while more and more players are showing remarkable recovery ability from this type of injury, it’s of course no sure thing.

Bradford’s current contract stipulates $1.75 million of both his 2014 & 2015 salaries are guaranteed, while his cap hits for ’14 & ’15 are $17,610,000 and $16,580,000, respectively. And one thing is certain—St. Louis cannot afford to have an unproven quarterback rehabbing a torn ACL take up $17.6 million of next year’s salary cap space.

Trusted Rams reporter Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post-Dispatch doesn’t think that the Rams will use one of their 2014 first-round picks on a quarterback. However that could change in the next 3 weeks.

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, the top quarterback prospect in the country, is the heavy favorite to be the first quarterback taken in April’s draft.  If Houston—the current owner of the #1 pick and a franchise in dire need of a quarterback—continues to lose (@IND, vs.DEN, @TEN), then Bridgewater will almost certainly be a Texan.

But if the Texans can pull off an upset or two while the Redskins (@ATL, vs.DAL, @NYG) continue to lose, then the Rams will own the #1 pick as well as the rights to Bridgewater.  Looking at the Texans and Redskins remaining schedules, this may seem unlikely.  However if you watched any football this past Sunday, you know it’s certainly not impossible.

Ultimately, Sam Bradford’s NFL future may rest on the outcomes of the last 3 Texans and Redskins games.  Otherwise, he will likely remain a Ram in 2014, while being forced to restructure his contract or take a pay cut.

 

Andrew Cohen
@ajcohen03
ajcohen3@gmail.com 
 


 

  • NW86

    And unlike 2010, if the Rams do cut Bradford and draft a 1st round QB, this one won’t cost them $50M – which would allow them the cap space to build a team around their pick

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  • dukeness

    My gut feeling is that Bradford is still the guy in 2014. If he is successful, he gets a long-term deal. If not, he will be cut. There are other glaring holes keeping the Rams down, namely secondary and o-line, which should get the offseason focus. I do expect them to draft a QB in rounds 3-5 as a backup/replacement. Of course, this all hinges on Bradford’s recovery process.

  • PeteH

    How much will the Rams save if they cut him after June 1st? Either way, the Rams hold all the cards.

    Bradford can either take a pay cut, take a restructured contract that extends him but for less money. If he refuses, the Rams can cut him and save about 20 Million and use a their 1A on a QB and their 1B on a WR.

    No way should Bradford make more money in 2014 than Peyton Manning.

    Personally, I would cut him. He can’t be traded with that huge contract.
    Cut him, draft Bridgewater or Manziel or best QB available with their 1A
    He will cost a lot less and do just as well if not better than Bradford and likely have more upside.

    Bradford has done nothing in 4 years and will miss 15 games to injury by the end of the season.

    The fact that he put up some good numbers against bad teams and in garbage time this season doesn’t impress me. His career numbers say it all. Mediocre career numbers and injury prone. Adios!

    Finnegan is another guy that will be cut saving the Rams a lot of money. The Rams need to draft another CB and a FS.

    OLB is another need unless they can re-sign Dunbar at a reasonable price.

    Can anyone weigh in on the differences regarding the savings if they cut one or both players before or after June 1st?

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