McMullen on the Eagles: QB Controversy 2016
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — So that took all of a week.
The great quarterback controversy of 2016 has arrived. Just days after supposedly pledging their allegiance to Sam Bradford with a glorified two-year, $36 million contract, the Eagles signed Doug Pederson-favorite Chase Daniel, ostensibly to be the backup quarterback.
Makes perfect sense right?
The long-time caddie of Drew Brees and Alex Smith continues his career path as one of the best backups in the game with a first-year head coach who he is extremely comfortable with. Except, the Eagles gave the unproven Daniel, who has thrown a total of 77 passes in his professional career, one more year on his deal than Bradford and at least the opportunity to make similar money.
So what gives?
According to NFL Media, cash was not the only thing the Eagles used to get Daniel to sign on the dotted line. The veteran was also promised the chance to compete with Bradford for the starting job.
To really figure out what is going on here, you first have to understand the contracts for each QB.
A closer look at Bradford's numbers paint the picture of a big-money, one-year deal with a relatively palatable team option for Philadelphia if Bradford excels in 2016. His real guarantee when pen was put to paper was $22 million and he is set to make $18 million ($11 million signing bonus and $7 million base salary) in ’16 with incentives that could push that number to the $20 million he and agent Tom Condon reportedly sought if Bradford helps the Eagles reach and win in the postseason.
As far as the salary cap goes, Bradford’s hit is a very manageable $12.5 million next season, actually less than the near $13 million number he carried in '15.
Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk.com reported Wednesday that Bradford hasn't even received his signing bonus with the $11 million due in separate 50/50 installments, one on March 18 and other on Sept. 1, a fact that has some taking the train from point A to conspiracy theory faster than Chris Johnson running the 40.
Admittedly that knowledge at least opens up the possibility of a quick flip, in that Howie Roseman could trade Bradford to another team and make them pay one or both of those installments depending on the timing.
While that might seem like a stretch if Roseman has proven one thing by his handiwork in the Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray trades, he has shown the ability to put together inventive deals.
Furthermore Daniel's contract, reported as a three-years and $21 million, could be worth as much as $36 million if he reaches the incentives written in it, ones that are only reachable if he is a starting QB.
On the surface, the former University of Missouri star got a palatable $6 million signing bonus and a $1 million base salary for '16, all guaranteed. He then spikes to a $7 million base in '17, with $5 million of that set in stone. The cap numbers are Roaseman-esque, $3 million in '16 and $9 million over the next two years. However $15 million more is obtainable through a serious of measuring sticks tied to performance and playing time.
They're not easily attainable -- the Eagles would have to win at least 10 games and make the playoffs in each of Daniel three years with him at the helm for the most part -- but it at least shows a willingness to admit Daniel could be in the equation.
And why not?
Daniel is the signal caller with the supposed high-football IQ who knows Pederson's offense backward and forward while the perpetually underachieving Bradford is on to yet another new offensive system in his star-crossed career.
Maybe we need to put the word "potential" before the word controversy right now but where there is smoke, fire usually follows.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen