Malcolm Should Get Out of the Middle on Bradford
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Eagles star safety Malcolm Jenkins made a bit of news recently by offering up his opinion on the team's pending free-agent quarterback Sam Bradford.
Jenkins, like of lot of others in town, was won over by the veteran quarterback's sharp second-half of the season in which he won four of seven starts, completed 68.2 percent of his passes and amassed a passer rating of a 97.0, a sharp uptick from the thrower whose rating was only 76.4 through his first seven games in Philadelphia.
“Early, especially in the first half of the season, I don't know how comfortable (Bradford) was in the locker room or being in the role of the leader on the team when he had just gotten here," Jenkins told CSNPhilly.com. “He's got new guys. Then he got hurt, and when he came back, he decided to take the team by the horns basically. He really started to be a lot more vocal, he started to break down the huddles, he started to speak to the team before every game. When he did that, he gained the trust of the teammates and he started playing better. The back half of the season, he played really well for us."
There's little question that Bradford improved dramatically down the stretch last year and in a vacuum, he's probably the team's best option for 2016.
"If you protect Sam and give him weapons to use, I think he can be one of those quarterbacks to win a championship," Jenkins said.
Perhaps, but there's a reason that Jenkins lines up at safety on Sundays and isn't faced with the task of cobbling together an NFL roster.
The real issue with Bradford and the Eagles is money. The team realizes they will likely be taking a step back in the short-term by moving in a different direction at the game's most important position but in any cost-benefit analysis, you've got to make tough decisions.
And the harsh reality is that the Chip Kelly-fueled trade for Bradford was a loser from the get go.
Think about it, absent an unlikely run to Super Bowl 50, there was no desirable option. If he was bad, you gave away a second-round pick and about $12 million in salary. If he was good, Tom Condon was showing up with the Brink's Truck and asking the Eagles to fill it up.
The ultimate end game, in fact, was the worst-case scenario. Bradford was awful early but good enough late to encourage many to lobby the team to invest in fool's gold, no matter the cost with one prominent ESPN personality advocating the Eagles should go as high as $22 million per year on The Sports Bash. Condon, meanwhile, never the bashful type has reportedly asked for $25 million.
For sanity's sake and the fact that I do not have the ability to prescribe anti-psychotics, realize the current highest-paid quarterback in all of football in Aaron Rodgers, who clocks in at $22 million. Only eight others -- Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Drew Brees -- reach $20 million, the presumed 2016 franchise-tag number.
Six of those nine quarterbacks have won Super Bowls, Newton just came up short in SB 50 and Rivers and Ryan have reached eight Pro Bowls between them. Bradford, meanwhile is 25-37-1 as an NFL starter.
If you are playing who doesn't belong in that group, guess who is winning?
Whatever you think of Roseman as a personnel guy, understand he's too smart a negotiator to saddle the Eagles with a bad contract just because the current alternatives are average at best. So, you can forget about the franchise tag and Bradford.
The only way Sam will be back in Philadelphia is if he tests the open market and finds the numbers far less than expected.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen