Short-term deal the most sensible for Eagles, Bradford

The nearly three-month wait is over. The Eagles have decided to go with Sam Bradford at quarterback…for the next two years anyway.

The new deal for Bradford is far from a marriage. It's almost an engagement or a dating agreement, albeit an expensive one.

Still, the Eagles ended up playing their cards right by thinking short-term with Bradford and leaving the door open for other options down the road. In the same sense, Bradford got his wish, to stay in Philadelphia, to have a guaranteed starting job — at least for now — and a chance to lead the Eagles into a new era.

In the end, it was the deal that made the most sense for both sides.

 

Franchising Bradford would have been a mistake. To pay an injury-riddled quarterback just getting back on his feet last season upwards of $20 million was foolish spending. In the same sense, a long-term commitment of four or five years also made little sense for the Eagles, who would likely come to regret the decision in the later years of the deal.

Bradford was always the best option in the here and now.

No, there was no rookie quarterback that would give the franchise a chance to win and make the playoffs this season. In the grand scheme of things, there may not have been another quarterback that would hit the market that would have either.

With that in mind, it would have been easy for Bradford to set the minimum price tag at a lengthy and expensive contract. It seems apparent by this deal that Bradford and agent Tom Condon surveyed the market and found nothing. So back to the Eagles they came, ready to work out a short-term agreement.

Two years and a $12.5 million cap hit in 2016 seem perfectly reasonable and not at all high risk, certainly not as risky as four or five years, which is where things seemed to be trending as the offseason approached.

The reason there isn't high risk is that the Eagles can now trek forward with Bradford, who has played with a lot of the same players on the roster already and see if that group can manage to win a still very mediocre NFC East.

At the same time, the contract doesn't hinder the Eagles in looking for another quarterback via free agency or, more importantly, the Draft. In fact, this takes the necessity of drafting a quarterback in the first round out of the picture.

The Eagles may still explore the option of taking a quarterback in the first round, someone like Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch, in an effort to groom him in the next season or two knowing that they could be free of Bradford any time after next season.

That said, while it is a new beginning for the Eagles, it is apparent that the Eagles are trying to rid themselves of the Chip Kelly era by at least giving the players the opportunity to show that the record last season was not a product of the players but the coach. Under Doug Pederson, Bradford gets a chance to work with a new head coach, a new philosophy and a new system that Pederson believes will work for the quarterback, being a former quarterback himself.

Keeping Bradford may also be an answer to the players already on the team. At minimum, Zach Ertz, Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Jenkins have all shown a desire for Bradford to stay with the team and you can certainly assume that Bradford's presence may help ease DeMarco Murray's mind a bit.

There is much more work to do in the offseason and the Eagles could be far from done with handling the quarterback position. They have an offensive line to address. They are looking to extend defensive star Fletcher Cox. They want to address the safety position in free agency.

But while all of those are questions, the question of the Eagles and Bradford trumped them all.

It may not be a popular move, but it certainly doesn't feel like the wrong one all things considered. And the Eagles can get an heir apparent into the organization within the next few months, it will be even more apparent what the purpose of this deal was. 

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.