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Philadelphia Eagles: Why Sam Bradford’s “Ridiculous” Contract Extension Actually Makes Sense

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Sports worlds are surreal by nature. The athletes are freaks of nature, the jerks are more full of themselves than a hot air balloon, the heroes are as square as pieces of fudge in a See’s box, the middle of the pack anti-heroes have fanbases arguing over each other and the villains give the infamous outlaws of the Wild West a run for their money.

The insanity is larger than ordinary life too. The looney, the cuckoo, and the batty all multiply by double-digit factors. Like take the Redskins giving Albert Haynesworth a $100 million contract or JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel being drafted in the first round when on the wall’s behind them, written in bright red stop light ink were the words: “STAY AWAY!!!”

Here we have an insane decision that can only happen in sports. Well something similar probably happens in several other business formats, but because it’s in sports, it gets criticism from nonbusiness minds that get wrapped around the love of a team rather than the icy frozen tundra attitude of business.

I’m talking of course about Sam Bradford and his absurd, ludicrous and overall ridiculous contract that the Philadelphia Eagles gave him. A two-year pact worth $36 million ($40 after incentive bonuses) and $28 million guaranteed.

Assuming Bradford is average/mediocre maybe even bad, he’ll get $36 million and if he’s in the terrible/putrid range he gets $28 million. On three, let the chorus of: “I WISH I HAD THAT JOB” come. 1, 2, 3.

Now that we have expressed our envy, it’s time to explain why such a underperforming, injury-prone, historically overpaid, top overall pick bust like Sam Bradford can be this lucky. It can’t happen to a nicer guy (not sarcastic since word is he’s a class act), but it bugs people in general to see a guy who doesn’t do his job at an acceptable to elite level get overpaid like this. It conjures up images of the owner’s incompetent boob of a nephew get manager at the drive thru while they, they hardest worker, live just above minimum wage.

The reasoning for this is simple. There’s no one better for the job*

*I’d go with Ryan Fitzpatrick and tell bust boy to take a hike but Bradford is their pick.

It’s absolutely moronic to even pay Sam Bradford half his salary or $9 million a year. Some would feel it’s stupid to pay even half that for a guy who should become a backup at this point. But the simple fact of the matter is that Bradford is arguably the best quarterback in this free agent pool that resembles a garage sale after rush hour.

In this scenario, it’s not about what’s there as much as it is what’s bearable to take. Bradford is bearable. When he wasn’t hurt he had a 78-52 touchdown ratio. One point during the last preseason, the guy was so sharp (10/10 with three TDs if memory serves) that it looked that as long as he stayed healthy, the Eagles may have gotten a super weapon because coming out of college, Bradford had an impressive arm which showed at the combine and pro day. Even won the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Then his ACL gave out. Twice. He resembled Bruce Lee’s kicking bag after a decade of use. The Eagles took on his the last year of his massive and even more absurd rookie deal and they got a career high in passing yards! 3,725, the highest in six years (well five because one year he didn’t play at all) and he did that in a league where at least half a dozen guys hit 4,000 on a routine basis. Oh, wait that’s not a good thing is it…

Anyhow, the man is adequate because he doesn’t completely put on a Laurel and Hardy act when he steps on the field and has his moments. Not many, but a few moments. So, the real question to whether or not this extension is the worst one of the 2016 (and maybe this century) depends upon the long term plan of the Eagles.

It is my belief, because it is the logical one and the Eagles front office is a logical one, that the Eagles will keep Bradford for two years as a stopgap while they look for a new signal caller. Some fans will still balk that it’s $36 million they’re losing, that they are settling for the wrong choice, and/or they should just tank this season and get a quarterback next year with a high draft choice.

Regarding reason no. 1: the amount of salary Bradford gets is technically “lost” by giving it to him and it may be a bit harder for Eagles to move around their cap space depending how they specifically structure the cap numbers.

Reason no. 1 ties in with reason no. 3 because $36 million is less than what they’d lose if they’d didn’t get a viable quarterback. If the Eagles saved the $36 million, they’d lose even more because teams that tank lose money. It’s logical and reasonable for us as fans to say just suck to play for next year. Eagles fans historically wanted their team to lose in 1968 so they could get O.J. Simpson the following year (and they failed to do so).

But teams always try to at least look competitive because even a bad team that puts up points and is fun to watch will make money. Fans forget that because they don’t sit on the owner’s fat wallet. This is still a business and say that even if one of the 32 owners would be willing to take such a loss, the other 31 would glare at him for costing them money too because if one unit suffers, the whole league suffers. Roger Goodell would most assuredly be on the phone with any owner trying to dissuade him of such a reckless and expensive choice.

Furthermore, every year, because of contracts, cap space, and teams shuffling their roster, is a year that teams can’t afford to lose. A football team isn’t stable where there’s always next year. One bad year can destroy a franchise. Look what happened to the 49ers last year after they had been in the Super Bowl just three seasons ago and the NFC Title game the previous year. The plane didn’t just crash and burn, it landed in an active volcano that was about to sneeze.

The way the game is set up is you try no matter what to make playoffs, make that extra money, maybe win a ring and even more money, and then repeat. That’s why they Cowboys kept going in the NFC East till the very end last year despite all their injuries because if they could just pull off a 7-9 record, they could’ve gone on a run (a miraculous lucky one yes, but those have happened) and then they’d be picking last rather than fourth. All of this may seem impossible to people, but hey, the experts almost unanimously picked the Broncos to blow the Super Bowl and after covering this game for nearly a decade, I’ve seen too many things to ever say never say never. It really ain’t over till it’s over to borrow one from Yogi Berra.

As for you stubborn people who still don’t believe and want the team to tank well ok. Then how about you guys explain to the players, scouts, coaches, and front office just why they should bust their butts if you’re going to give up on a season before it’s even begun. If you think you can make them see reason, then you must have more vocal persuasion than Vito Corleone. You’ll lose the organization, locker room and front office, by capitulating. That in addition to say maybe 100-200 million bucks in revenue from unbought tickets, unpurchased merchandise and all the other ways the NFL makes dough off this game.

Those are reasons 1 & 3, as for season 2, like I said, unless you want Ryan Fitzpatrick (who would be my choice) then Bradford is the guy. According to some sports guys, there isn’t a QB out there to take that can start day one. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are the top prospects while Paxton Lynch may be overhyped into a round 1 pick. Even if the Eagles take one, it still is insurance to have Bradford there to start and compete against the new rookie in training camp.

The rookie will be on a cheap rookie deal and Bradford will be gone in two years. Maybe even less if they decide to cut him (to save a smidge on cap space depending on deal structure) or find a GM with an open vacancy sign where his cerebrum should be to trade him to. You’d be surprised at some of the doofus disaster moves that have happened that even the most elementary fans saw coming from a mile away. Just look at the Cleveland Browns history.

Right now, the Eagles have Bradford for the short term and hope to maybe compete with him as a backup. One who doesn’t screw up too much while the team relies on great defense, solid run game, and excellent special teams to win. The idea that a team needs MVP production from the quarterback or even a routine MVP candidate at quarterback to win is a myth. One that isn’t dispelled enough by the lazy stereotypical media.

As crazy as it sounds, the Bradford deal is a smart one by the Eagles. The reason it is so high is because he’s got the best resume in the market and agents can easily use that to leverage desperate teams like the Texans or Rams or Browns. Say a guy tears something in training camp or has a freak accident during free agent period, then the Eagles could be left with Mark Sanchez or Thad Lewis as their starting quarterback and then do worse than they would with Bradford and blow a season. Oh, and Bradford still makes bank off another team.

You don’t blow a season when you’re in the NFC East where injury-prone Tony Romo, interception machine Eli Manning, and glorified game manager Kirk Cousins are the opposing quarterbacks. The Eagles can still compete even if it’ll be hard because an elite quarterback makes things easier.

But there is no elite quarterback right now, so Bradford will have to do. Sam Bradford now officially is a $100 million dollar man between his massive rookie deal and this new extension. Then he’ll be 30 and ready to hit the market again if he wants to keep playing.

All of this in this the surreal world of sports we have.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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