3/5/16 Mike Duncan
There had been a lot of heated debating in Philadelphia about what the direction the Eagles should go with the quarterback situation. Most of this talk revolved around whether Sam Bradford was a franchise level QB. Regardless of which side you are on with Bradford, you should be able to see that the Eagles reached the best possible result in their negotiations with the quarterback.
The breakdown of the contract is below. This was taken from www.overthecap.com which is a tremendous resource for all things contract related in the NFL.
The contract is a 2 year 36 million dollar agreement with 22 million fully guaranteed and another 4 million in incentives for playoff appearances. As you can see, the 2016 cap hit is 12.5 million, a very reasonable number. The cap hit jumps up to 23.5 million next year. This deal is highly unlikely to play out in 2017, with a renegotiation, cut, or trade likely to happen after this season depending on the performance of Bradford. Lets examine why this deal makes sense for the Eagles.
The Eagles were hesitant to commit to Sam Bradford as the franchise QB for the foreseeable future. However, Bradford was clearly their best option available for 2016. They were able to reach an agreement that keeps Bradford around next year at a reasonable cap number but also give them the ability to get out from the contract in 2017 if things go poorly. On the other side, they retain his rights in 2017 if things go well. I have seen quite a few people saying why not just franchise tag Bradford instead of committing any money to him in 2017.
There are multiple reasons why the agreed deal makes more sense. First, by doing this deal, the cap number is about 7 million lower than the franchise tag($12.5 vs $19.8). This gives the eagles greater flexibility in FA this off-season and also gives them room to get an extension done with Fletcher Cox if possible. Secondly, the deal also gives the Eagles Bradford’s rights in 2017 whereas the tag would not. With the franchise tag at $20 million and the total guarantees of the contract at $22 million, the eagles are basically paying $2 million more than the tag number to A) have a lower cap hit in year 1 and B)have his rights for the second year.
As for 2017, if Bradford plays well this year they can elect to extend him. However, if he does not, they can elect to cut or trade him. Cutting him would create $9 million in dead money. However, because his 2017 cap number is so high, it would also create $14 million in cap savings. Additionally, about half of that dead money could be recouped via offset language in the contract is another team signs him afterwards. A trade would result in $18 million in cap savings and $5.5 million in dead money. So while the eagles will be on the hook for some money, this deal is easy to escape after one year.
Because of the short term nature of the deal, the Eagles will almost assuredly select a QB in the upcoming draft. Head Coach Doug Pederson has mentioned the desire to draft a quarterback to develop. While this draft does not have an elite QB prospect in the mold of an Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, or Marcus Mariota, there is good depth with a longer list of viable prospects than usual.
To summarize, the deal with Bradford lets the Eagles take another look at Bradford, their best option available for the 2016 season, without a long term commitment. It will also allow them the flexibility in the draft to find a QB they believe can be a potential long term solution. If, going into next off-season, they want to move forward with their drafted QB they have the flexibility to do so. If Bradford plays well next year, they can look into a long term contract extension and having a young QB behind him in this situation is what we one of those “good problems”