Teddy Bridgewater’s 2015 NFL season ended on a missed chip-shot in the Wild Card round at home versus the Seattle Seahawks. Bridgewater, led by future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and a defense that ranked in the top 10, helped the Vikings to an 11-5 record and NFC North crown.
Teddy Bridgewater’s 2016 NFL season came to an end on a non-contact play in practice, tearing his ACL and dislocating his knee. The injury was so bad that the team had to call a helicopter to fly him to the nearby trauma unit, where Bridgewater reportedly almost lost his leg.
Following the injury, the Vikings were left with journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill. There were reports that they were looking to take Mark Sanchez from the Broncos (whom was later cut and picked up by the Cowboys), Geno Smith from the Jets, or even backup quarterback Matt Moore from the Dolphins. Teams knew Viking’s GM Rick Spielman was trying desperately to find a starting quarterback. They reportedly asked for the Vikings 2017 first-round draft pick, along with younger talented players in exchange for a quarterback. This was made evident by Speilman’s comments to the media on Thursday September 1st.
“People are asking some crazy things. People think we’re desperate. We’re not going to do something that in my estimation . . .puts us in a situation that jeopardizes the future of the franchise.”
Enter the Philadelphia Eagles and GM Howie Roseman. It should be noted that Rick Spielman has dealt with the Philadelphia Eagles before. He was of course the General Manager that traded a second-round draft pick away to the Eagles in exchange for backup quarterback A.J. Feeley.
This time, his eyes were set on Eagles starting quarterback Sam Bradford. The Eagles drafted quarterback Carson Wentz with the second-overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, pretty much sealing Sam Bradford’s fate in Philadephia as the team could save $12 million by cutting him the following year.
It was assumed that Bradford would be the Eagles starter in 2016 and there wasn’t much hype around him. Sam Bradford is an average NFL quarterback at this point in his career. You’ll hear the argument that he doesn’t elevate the players around him like a quarterback should. My argument would be to look at quarterbacks such as Blake Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both put up pretty gaudy numbers in 2015. But, if you look deeper, they were in the bottom-20 in the league in accuracy. Sam Bradford was ranked 4th (PFF). Good weapons certainly help elevate average quarterback play.
Back to the trade. Spielman called Howie Roseman and asked about Bradford prior to Thursday night’s preseason finale against the New York Jets. Howie was not particularly interested in trading Sam Bradford at the time, but he would listen. Fast-forward to Friday night. The Vikings could not come close to a deal with any other team for quarterback, simply because these other teams were out to fleece Rick Spielman. He called Howie and Howie essentially told Spielman he would need a first-round pick in 2017 and more.
Saturday morning, around 10:00 A.M., defensive genius Wade Phillips tweeted “Sam Bradford to Vikings?”
The tweet was quickly deleted. But the Twitter damage was done, speculation was everywhere. About 15 minutes later, Adam Schefter tweeted that it was a done deal. Sam Bradford was traded to the Vikings.
The details: The Vikings would trade their 2017 first-round and 2018 fourth-round picks to the Eagles in exchange for Sam Bradford. Another caveat in the deal is that the 2018 fourth-round pick can become a third-round pick if the Vikings make the NFC Championship game this year, or a second-round pick if the Vikings win the Super Bowl.
Why this makes sense for Minnesota: Teddy Bridgewater suffered a nasty injury. He may not be back for the 2018 season and Bradford is under team control for two more years. They needed somebody who can come in and help this team compete. With former Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur being the tight end and assistant play caller to Norv Turner, the Vikings feel Bradford can pick up the offense quickly. The Vikings are also built to compete now. They have a top-10 defense that, according to some, can be even top-three this year. They have an over 30-year old Adrian Peterson not getting any younger (he also attended the University of Oklahoma with Bradford). This is the most complete team Sam Bradford has ever been a part of. The pressure is no longer on him. Bradford has quality targets in emerging wide receivers Stefon Diggs and rookie LaQuan Treadwell, and veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph. Not to mention, the Vikings are building a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium in Minnesota and will need to compete to keep fans dishing out their hard-earned dollars.
Why this makes sense for Philadelphia and my personal theory: Philadelphia hosts the NFL Draft in 2017. A couple days ago, I tweeted “there is no way in hell that Philadelphia will host the draft without a first-round pick.” Knowing Philadelphia, knowing the fan-base, the scenario just seemed very unlikely. There would have been boos upon boos for every single team picking in the first-round. This cuts the boos to just Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, and this year the Browns (they hold the Eagles original first-round pick from the Carson Wentz deal) selections. Trading Bradford also frees up $17 million in cap space for the 2017 season. The Eagles had -$12 million against the cap before the trade, so now they’re looking at $5 million in spending money for the offseason. Many thought the trade meant that the Eagles were basically forfeiting the season and starting journeyman quarterback and Kansas City transplant Chase Daniel. This is not the case as Jeff Mclane of ESPN reported that the Eagles plan on starting Carson Wentz Week 1 versus the Browns, if healthy. This was confirmed by Coach Doug Pederson at 11:33 A.M. today.
My theory is that the impending 10-game suspension for Lane Johnson is either going to be heavily reduced, or eliminated altogether. It’s been a month since the suspension was reported and a Sample B was needed to prevent Johnson from failing his second PED test, this time due to Peptide (a string of amino acids banned by the NFL). I could be wrong, but I don’t see why the Eagles would hand the keys over to the franchise quarterback with his best lineman being suspended 10 games. Especially when the other side of the line, future Hall of Famer, Jason Peters is on his last leg in the NFL. That’s not a way to set up your franchise quarterback for success. The Eagles offensive line is stable with Lane Johnson manning the right tackle spot. Losing Johson would leave the Eagles with Jason Peters (when healthy), Steven Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Allen Barbre. Not exactly a line you would want protecting the No. 2 overall selection.
There is a new era of football in Philadelphia, and the Vikings are hoping to stay contenders in a very strong NFC. This move was a great move for both clubs to go in the direction that they intend. Oh, and things will get very interesting when Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings come to Philadelphia to play Carson Wentz and the Eagles in Week 7. Stay tuned.