Dear Sam Bradford,
Come back to us. Look, I’ve been the biggest Sam Bradford apologist ever since the Eagles missed out on Marcus Mariota in the 2015 Draft. I celebrated when he signed a two-year extension. I cried out in horror when the team traded all the way up to number two to take the apparent quarterback of the future. I endlessly cited his last seven games as a reason for hope going forward. However, Sam, as much as I’m on your side, you are in the wrong here.
Let’s start by going over the kind of player that you are, Sam. Ever since being picked first overall in 2010, you’ve done nothing to show anyone that you deserve to be a franchise quarterback. Outside of winning Rookie of the Year, there isn’t anything to hang your hat on, achievement wise. You’ve never lead a team to the playoffs or even to a winning record. Your career record is 25-37-1, not even close to enough to be considered a solution, and you have a lower winning percentage than esteemed quarterbacks like Matt Cassel, Nick Foles, and Brian Hoyer. Your career passer rating ranks just between the two literal embodiments of journeyman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Hoyer. 20 quarterbacks have started at least 60 games since you’ve entered the league. You rank last among them in passer rating, yards per attempt, touchdowns, winning percentage, and next to last in completion percentage. Regardless of what happens with the Eagles, you’ll have made over $100 million on doing next to nothing in the league.
It’s not like you’re even a surefire bet to play any of those games, either. In your entire career, you’ve only ever started 16 games once. In two of your seasons, you’ve ended the year on catastrophic knee injuries. Even last year, you forced the Eagles to roll with Mark Sanchez for a significant portion of the year. No one is going to bet on you to be the durable, steady starter than is there game in and game out. You are a china doll, ready to be broken upon the slightest touch. Who’s going to bank their future on that?
Listen, I know that there are excuses and there are maybe even more of them that are more valid than for anyone else in the league. I know that the Rams were a bum team. I know that you’ve had trouble catching up to offenses coming off of those injuries. I know that you haven’t had great surrounding talent anywhere you’ve gone. The Rams had a porous offensive line, no talent at skill positions, and refused to invest anything in fixing that. On the Eagles, your best offensive weapon was Zach Ertz, the line was bad again, and you had to deal with more drops than any quarterback in the league. There were so many drops. There were too many drops. However, if you expect a team to bank it’s future on a series of excuses and what-if’s, you are delusional.
It’s not like you’ve had to fight for anything in your career, either. When the most competition a mid-tier quarterback like yourself has to face is Austin Davis, Mark Sanchez, and Chase Daniels, that’s a problem. Did you expect the Eagles to sit put with you and wait for you to get injured with no insurance except for a career backup whose claim to fame is a few nice starts in pre-season games? Did you really think that little of the organization that you are a part of?
You signed a two-year deal with very little guaranteed money for the second year. You had to have known that the team wasn’t convinced that you were the answer. You had to know that they were going to hedge their bets in a little less of a haphazard way than Chase Daniels.
Listen, I know that it sucks that the Eagles traded so much to find your replacement. I don’t like it either. I know that those picks could have gone towards building the surrounding talent that you so sorely lack. I know that it sucks to know that you’re just a seat warmer, waiting for the guy who the team actually believes in is ready to go. However, that’s football. General Managers are always searching for your replacement, no matter how good you are. It’s their job to never be satisfied with where their roster is at, especially with the quarterback position. You can’t get caught up in that. You need to play your heart out, regardless of what the vision of the team is. Even if you’re not in their long term plans, you need to show that you’re good enough to be a part of someone else's.
The situation may seem rigged, and maybe it is, but it isn’t your place to whine and pout about it while the organization is forced to move on without you. This isn’t like the teams that you’ve been a part of before. The starting job isn’t just going to be handed to you. If you continue this temper tantrum and continue to not show up to the team's practices, they are more than willing to move on without you. Doug Pederson loves Chase Daniels. Even though he wants you to start, he’s more than willing to hand his boy the keys to the kingdom if you keep this up.
There are only so many starting jobs in the league. You should feel lucky to still have one after proving so little for so long. The draft is over. It’s not as if someone is about to trade a king's ransom for you, especially considering that the Eagles would have to eat $11 million to do that. No team is that dumb.
It may seem bad, but the situation isn’t over for you. Nothing is a given in the NFL. It’s a league built on competition at every level. Sure, the plan right now may be to roll with Wentz as the team's franchise quarterback, but plans aren’t static. Things change. It’s your time to fight hard for your spot and to show them that they made the wrong choice in drafting Wentz. If you really are good enough to be the guy going forward, and show it on the field, the Eagles will be more than happy to start you as long as you deserve it. In a couple of years, when the league becomes quarterback needy again, Carson Wentz can be shipped off for a similar boatload of picks that the team traded up for him. If not, there are plenty of other teams that would love to take a quarterback of your caliber if you really are that good. Look at Drew Brees. When the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers, he wasn’t constantly looking over his own shoulder. Even though he wasn’t their quarterback of the future, he showed that he could be someone else’s and has become an all-time great on his second team. I know that competition can be scary, but players are defined by whether they fold or rise to the occasion when the odds are down and they face that pressure.
Just a month ago, your coach, Doug Pederson said, “Honestly, if you’re the starter, who cares? Who cares? Why are you looking over your shoulder if you’re the starter? And that’s the way Sam has to approach this, even with Chase there. And even if we go out and draft a quarterback this year. If you’re the guy, you’re the guy. You’re looking forward and not behind. If you’re constantly looking behind, that’s a problem.”I would suggest you trust your coach and adhere to that advice.