In a week full of surprising moves in the NFL, none came as a bigger shock than the news that the Eagles had traded quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford.
At first, many assumed that the deal also included the Eagles getting the Rams’ first-round pick (No. 10 overall), and that it was the first step toward Eagles coach Chip Kelly moving up in the draft to select Marcus Mariota. But when the dust settled and the final compensation was revealed, that turned out not to be the case at all. It was the Rams who got the better draft pick haul: The Eagles are sending a fourth-round draft pick this year and a second-round pick next year to St. Louis and receiving a fifth-round pick this year and (depending on Bradford’s health and playing time) either a third- or fourth-round pick next year.
So the Eagles get Bradford, the Rams get Foles, and the Rams get the better end of the draft pick compensation. In other words, Kelly thinks Bradford is better than Foles. Throw in the fact that the Eagles have to pay Bradford $13 million this year, while the Rams only have to pay Foles $1.5 million this year, and Kelly must like Bradford a lot better than Foles. For all of Kelly’s talk about salary cap constraints explaining his decision to trade LeSean McCoy and cut Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and Cary Williams, Kelly traded away his starting quarterback and draft picks to take on Bradford’s huge cap hit.
Considering that, and considering that Foles’s career passer rating is 94.2 while Bradford’s is 79.3, and considering that Bradford’s injury history is significant, it’s hard to see what Kelly is thinking.
But maybe he’s thinking this: Bradford is an elite quarterback talent, and Foles isn’t. It wasn’t that long ago that Bradford was the first overall pick in the draft and the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year. Foles is a former third-round pick whose skill set is more limited. Based purely on talent for the quarterback position, Bradford is better than Foles.
If Bradford turns out to be the player everyone thought he’d be when he was the rookie of the year in 2010, this will turn out to be a great move by the Eagles. If Foles turns out to be the player he was as a Pro Bowler in 2013, this will turn out to be a great move by the Rams. If both players disappoint — or if both players turn out to be their new teams’ franchise quarterbacks — the tiebreaker goes to St. Louis, which got the better draft picks and saved cap space in the process.