Will the Eagles Keep Sam Bradford in Philly?
Last off season the Eagles cut ties with DeSean Jackson, a major piece from the Andy Reid era. Many argued the impact of that decision throughout the season, but the end result of the team not making the playoffs has resulted in major changes so far this off season.
The Andy Reid era finally appears to be over in Philadelphia.
Most new coaches come in and bring their own type players, players who will fit their style, Chip Kelly decided to try and win with Andy's guys - and it worked, but he could only bring Andy's gang so far.
In two seasons, Kelly has won 20 games, with one playoff appearance featuring Foles, McCoy, Maclin and Jackson on his high powered offense. He changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4 - but didn't really change personnel, moving defensive end Trent Cole to linebacker, first round pick Brandon Graham became a linebacker, second round pick Vinny Curry was a 4-3 end who still hasn't found a full-time role in the 3-4 defense. Mychal Kendricks was a 4-3 outside linebacker and moved inside to play 3-4 inside linebacker.
When Chip Kelly took over the personnel decisions late in December, he decided he got as far as he could with Andy's guys - and now it's time to find his own players.
He traded McCoy to Buffalo and got a new face for his defense in Kiko Alonso - Alonso was one of the league's very best rookies in 2013, racking up 159 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble.
Next he replaced Cary Williams with Byron Maxwell, the top corner on the market, Maxwell is a big, physical press corner who should fit into the Eagles Cover-three, single-high safety scheme in which Maxwell excelled in Seattle.
Then the shocker.
Dealing quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford.
So who exactly is Sam Bradford and what exactly can he be?
(Listen to "The Voice of the Rams" Steve Savard on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill discuss Sam Bradford)
"If Bradford stays healthy, he could be a franchise QB," ESPN.com NFL insider KC Joyner said on the Sports Bash, "I like the move a lot."
But he hasn't been able to stay healthy and in Bradford's first three seasons, he learned three different schemes, bounced around offensive coordinators from Pat Shurmur to Josh McDaniels to Brian Schottenheimer in Bradford's first three seasons. He was throwing to guys like Jared Cook, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, and Isaiah Pead - not exactly pro bowl talent around him.
He will have missed 41 of a possible 93 games since being taken No. 1 overall in 2010. He's coming off back-to-back ACL tears which ended both his 2013 season just seven games in and the entire 2014 season. After tearing his ACL during the 2014 preseason, Bradford admitted he was so devastated that he wondered if he wanted to continue playing football.
A lot of people aren't sure what to make of the move, some think Bradford will be moved to help move up, other think the Eagles are committed to him being the starter in 2015.
So will Sam Bradford be the starter in Philadelphia in 2015?
"For right now he absolutely is," ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter said on Sportscenter. "They made quire a commitment to Sam Bradford, and don't forget the fact that Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur worked with Sam Bradford in St. Louis. Clearly, Pat Shurmur was on board with making this deal and he helped convince Chip Kelly and Chip Kelly is a man with a plan and there are people in Philadelphia wondering what that plan is, but the fact of the matter is he knew the quarterback that he wanted, he went out and traded Nick Foles and draft picks to go out and get Sam Bradford, that's his guy."
Bradford won NFL Rookie of the Year in Shurmur's quick-hitting West Coast offense in 2010 when Shurmur was with the Rams.
While Nick Foles had a magnificent 2013 season, throwing a well documented 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions - his play fell off considerably in 2014. Foles who took care of the ball in 2013, turned the ball over at an alarming rate in 2014 before finally exiting with a season ending collar bone injury.
Bradford played extensively in the shot gun at Oklahoma and excelled running the up-tempo, no-huddle in St. Louis before getting hurt. He is a guy entering the league who was extremely accurate, excelled at throwing on the move and had a big arm. However, he hasn't been able to show those skills playing in St. Louis with limited weapons, injuries and poor protection.
So is Bradford a better fit in Chip Kelly's offense than Foles was?
"I think with Foles what we saw last year is probably more of what he is," Joyner said on the Sports Bash. "Last year defenses caught up with the system and he wasn't nearly as good as he was in 2013. Bradford has been reading defenses really well, since his Oklahoma days. His Oklahoma numbers were just Phenomenal, fantastic, out-of-this-world vertical numbers. His last year, if you look at his production before he got hurt, he was playing at an upper-tier level. The ceiling of where he can be if he stays healthy, I think he can be a franchise quarterback - so I like the move a lot"
The former No. 1 overall pick is set to make $12.985 million in the final year of his rookie deal, but if you remember back in early February, Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported there are teams "at the top of the draft" that would prefer Bradford if he was released by the Rams to Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota.
The NFL is all about being in the right place, in the right system, at the right time. Playing in the NFC west with a lousy offensive line, with wide outs who have stone hands and three different offensive coordinators is probably not going to make people think Bradford looks like a franchise quarterback.
Meanwhile, Foles walked into a great situation, leading Chip Kelly's high-powered offense at a time when the Cowboys and Redskins were dreadful on defense and the Giants were mediocre at best. He has had tremendous weapons with guys like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and in 2013 had one of the best offensvie lines in football.
If these guys traded places the past few season, maybe the perception of them and this trade would be much different.
Bradford's career has been star-crossed to date, however still only 26 years old, he has time to turn his career around, and has all the tools to do it according to Joyner.
"Kelly's system about making the right reads," Joyner explained. "Bradford is a guy who is gonna make the right reads, I think its huge upgrade for Eagles."
Many people think Chip Kelly wants Marcus Mariota, he still might, maybe Bradford is really the guy he wants, but one thing if for sure Foles wasn't the guy he believed in - and now he is gone.
Just like Jackson, McCoy and Maclin before him.
If he gets Mariota, Bradfords stay in Philly will be quickly forgotten, but for the amount he gave up to get Bradford, one thing is for sure - he valued Bradford much more than he valued Foles.
In the end, if Bradford is the franchise quarterback Kelly is looking for, giving up Foles and two draft picks isn't really too much to give up for a franchise guy. However, if he isn't the guy, then it's just another bad decision Chip has made - just like his first one, getting rid of Jackson.
My guess, Bradford is here and starting for the Eagles in 2015 - but I could be wrong, it could be Mariota. If we have learned anything so far with Chip the GM, never assume anything.