PHILADELPHIA ( — The few who are defending Sam Bradford in his current dust-up with his employer point to the contract the Eagles gave their presumptive 2016 starter and how it had to be indicative of a change in thinking from the organization's standpoint.

The narrative goes something like this: A placeholder doesn't get $22 million guaranteed, that number confirms the feeling that Bradford had a chance to develop into a quality quarterback and perhaps even the long-time starter for the Eagles, a mindset that only changed after seeing a prettier girl at the dance and realizing that goal was attainable.

The spin that the Eagles lied to Bradford, however, and did him dirty holds no water and that take has nothing to do with what side of the fence you are on in the "he said, she said" volleying between Howie Roseman and Tom Condon ... the numbers tell the true story.

Bradford was always regarded as a stop-gap by Philadelphia and that reality goes far deeper than the prove-it nature of a short-term contract due to injury concerns or the fact Roseman cobbled together a deal that actually lowered Bradford's salary-cap number from 2015.

The financial package that Bradford got from the Eagles was actually run-of-the-mill by NFL standards for a veteran quarterback, ranking 18th in yearly salary and 19th in total guarantees.

And even that is an over-inflated view of Bradford's place in the NFL's hierarchy of QBs when you take into account the league's financial system.

Certain teams like Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), Minnesota (Teddy Bridgewater), Oakland (Derek Carr), Tennessee (Marcus Mariota) and Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston) value their QBs far more than the Eagles do Bradford but are not yet forced to pay them big sums because they remain on their collectively-bargained rookie stipends.

However, if those organizations were forced to cut the big check tomorrow for their on-field leaders, each would do it at a greater rate than Bradford got paid with little complaint.

If you tweak the numbers to take that into account, all of a sudden Bradford's adjusted value among starting QBs in the NFL falls to 23rd on 24th in the league or near the bottom 25 percentile.

That's the real worth of where the Eagles placed Sam Bradford despite the illusion of the big-money deal.

And those who think otherwise fundamentally misunderstand the NFL's salary-cap structure.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen