What Sam Bradford's extension means for Eagles
Far from indicating that the Eagles are convinced of Sam Bradford’s franchise QB credentials, his short-term extension suggests the Philadelphia front office is adopting a cautious approach. The Eagles gave Bradford $22 million guaranteed next season, slightly more than the franchise-tag figure for QBs. In exchange, they received a low-risk, second-year option, which enables them to cut him for just $5.5 million in dead money. It’s a hedging of bets of sorts. The Eagles are committed to Bradford as the starter for a season, but can move on if he fails to deliver in 2016.
As for Bradford’s quality, he’s only an average NFL passer. He’s effective under pressure and throws accurately in the short and intermediate ranges, but struggles throwing down the field. He was on target on 78.1 percent of his passes overall (fourth-best in 2015), but hit the mark on just 40.7 percent of throws downfield (15th-best in NFL). The Eagles were probably convinced to bring him back because of his improvement toward the end of the season, as well as the limited pool of options in free agency. After the bye, he seemed more comfortable on his twice-repaired ACL, recording the seventh-best passing grade in that period. Bradford’s numbers suffered because of a supporting cast which dropped a league-leading 7.9 percent of throws and struggled to block on the interior (-36.6 combined cumulative pass-protection grade—0.0 is considered average).
Overall, Bradford is far from an elite QB, but can at least hold down a starting job and keep the Eagles’ competitive while new head coach Doug Pederson develops his own signal caller.