It’s now clear that quarterback Sam Bradford wants out of Philadelphia. It’s even more clear that Bradford and agent Tom Condon have opted for a T.O. Lite approach, attempting to talk the player’s way out of town without the shirtless driveway situps or the “next question” front-lawn press conference. (Yet.)
But at a time when Bradford is looking for a divorce, the more appropriate approach could be to offer an annulment. With an $11 million signing bonus given to Bradford (half of which already has been paid), maybe Bradford should offer to pay it all back in order to facilitate a trade.
Really, why should the Eagles eat $11 million simply because Bradford doesn’t want to play for a team that isn’t willing to regard him as “the guy”?
If Bradford doesn’t want to pay the money back, then he should be required to find a team that will take on his remaining contract and refund the bonus money. If there’s a team that is willing to regard Bradford as “the guy,” that team should be happy to pick up not $24 million over the next two years but the full $35 million.
There’s another potential solution, one for which it may simply be too late. Bradford can engage in a frank, candid assessment of his NFL career to date (which has generated fewer than 15,000 passing yards in six seasons) and fully commit himself to becoming “the guy” by playing so well that the next guy can’t get onto the field — in 2016, 2017, or ever.
Even if the Eagles eventually feel compelled to play inevitable No. 2 pick Carson Wentz in order to justify trading up for him, Bradford’s performance will prompt another team to truly embrace him as “the guy.”
Consider how other quarterbacks in similar situations have handled such circumstances. Did Kurt Warner, who signed with the Cardinals in 2005, try to talk his way out of Arizona when the Cardinals made Matt Leinart a top-10 pick in 2006? Or did Warner simply bust his ass, earn his playing time, ultimately win the job, and take the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl?
Bradford should be embracing the Kurt Warner playbook at this point. The 2010 No. 1 overall selection simply hasn’t accomplished enough to justify a power play, and his effort to force Philly’s hand will serve only to make his next team wonder whether, at some point, Bradford will pull a similar maneuver there.
Maybe it’s not too late for Bradford. Maybe, with the Eagles refusing to entertain a trade demand, Bradford will realize that his best course of action is to worry about the things he can control, cash his checks, and marvel at the amount of money he has earned in the NFL despite not being in the top half of all current NFL signal-callers.
If you disagree with that, here are 16 quarterbacks who are clearly and objectively better than Bradford, in no particular order: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, and Jay Cutler.
That list of 16 omits various young quarterbacks whom many teams already may prefer to Bradford: Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins, and Derek Carr.
Then there’s Alex Smith, who arguably deserves one of the spots in the top 16. If the league did a poll of all 32 teams, how many would choose Smith over Bradford?
Frankly, Bradford should be counting blessings (and his money) instead of airing his grievances. With $78 million earned in six years and another $22 million fully guaranteed under his two-year contract, Bradford should turn that frown upside down.
And maybe put on a ski mask.