Reevaluating the Foles-Bradford trade

With the news of Nick Foles' benching, John Breitenbach revisits the QB-for-QB swap by the Rams and Eagles.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Reevaluating the Foles-Bradford trade

This offseason, the Rams traded Sam Bradford and a fifth-round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Nick Foles and a second-round pick. Neither team was overly-satisfied with the fit of their signal caller, but also found the options in free agency and the draft limited, forcing them to look around the league for solutions. It’s now the middle of November, and Foles has been benched for Case Keenum, while Bradford is likely to miss time for injuries sustained against the Dolphins. Let’s take a look at how each has performed through 10 weeks.

Nick Foles Sam Bradford
Passing grade (league rank) -7.4 (32nd) -2.3 (19th)
PFF QB rating 82.68 (28th) 85.43 (23rd)
Accuracy percentage 71.0 (27th) 77.7 (7th)
Deep accuracy percentage 36.1 (39th) 45.9 (18th)
Accuracy percentage under pressure 62.0 (21st) 73.3 (3rd)

As is evident from the numbers, neither QB has played well through Week 10. Foles is better at generating big plays, but Bradford has better accuracy in general and under pressure.

Foles’ biggest issue throughout his career has been consistency. Too often, good games have been followed up with terrible ones. Even in his outstanding 2013 season, Foles was dreadful against Dallas in Week 7. Overall, he has played four games with a +4.0 grade or better in his career, but another six with grades worse than -4.0. Three of those games have come this year, including the one that resulted in his benching against the Bears.

Bradford, meanwhile, has done a decent job in Chip Kelly’s offense, but his limitations aren’t going away. He remains inaccurate and indecisive on downfield throws, even if his receivers have let him down on occasion with drops. Injury issues have resurfaced, with reports now that he may miss two games due to multiple injuries sustained in Week 10.

The backups

Jeff Fisher is desperately looking for a solution to save the Rams’ season, and probably his job, but recently-named starter Case Keenum does not look like the savior. Overall, he has a -10.6 grade in his performances in the pros (10 starts since 2013). There were some good moments in Houston, but passing under pressure proved a significant issue, along with accuracy in general.

For the Eagles, Mark Sanchez remains a capable passer, but also more than capable of crippling decisions in key situations. His -7.9 grade in nine games last season suggests he’s unlikely to seize the starting job if Bradford is forced to miss significant time.

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • Jason Williams

    they have both sucked real bad.

    • crosseyedlemon

      True enough Jason but what should concern us Bear fans is that two teams were willing to trade for a bad replacement and neither of them even considered making a play for Cutler.

      • Jason Williams

        I don’t want to talk about Cutler anymore :) I just… don’t. :)

      • Tim Edell

        One of the main reasons nobody considered trading for Cutler is that no team wanted to take on that massive contract.

        • crosseyedlemon

          Before the Bears foolishly gave Cutler the contract he was an option for teams looking for a bad replacement for their current QB but your correct Tim that once he got overpaid that pretty much made him impossible to move.

  • MosesZD

    When you trade a QB who wasn’t the answer for a QB who wasn’t the answer all you’ve done is reshuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    • Josh Stewart

      Eagles at least had some reason to do the deal. Foles was inconsistent going back to college. So they at least knew he wasn’t the answer. They were getting a QB that looked good, but with health issues. If he stayed healthy and preformed like the ROY when he was healthy, they win. Rams getting Foles was in no way a win and it was stupid to sign him to an extension before he even thew a ball for them.

      • Cant FixStupid

        But the Rams getting a 2nd round and 4th round pick back in return for a former ROY who has since blown out his knee more than once is a win, a major win. Had Foles been adequate, that would have just been incing on the cake. And the contract isn’t that bad at all. If the Rams aren’t happy with Foles after this year, they can easily dump him and his contract onto a QB needy team with a little dead cap hit, and likely get another 5th round pick in return to replace the one that they sent to Philly. Rams win that deal easily, as just a 2nd round pick was more than what Bradford was worth. Chip is an idiot for not taking that 1st round pick offered to him for Bradford before the draft, and used that and pick 20 plus whatever else would have been needed to go get Mariota.

      • D.K. Wilson

        So true. How ANYONE thought Nick Foles would be a quality NFL QB is beyond me. As for Bradford, in reality he’s not much better. He’s just playing in a system that is proximally close to what he ran at Oklahoma – a system made to take advantage college football defenses and rules and not against adequate NFL defenses.

  • Jorel

    “…even if his receivers have let him down on occasion with drops.” Understatement of the season

  • Sam Doohan

    I think the Rams come out on top here. Not because Foles is better, simply because the trade changed their whole team dynamic.

    For the Rams getting rid of Bradford was actually a pretty big step forward. Bradford hamstrung their organisation ever since he was drafted. He was a guy who was all potential and never even played for long enough to convince the front office he wasn’t the guy. They kept making decisions around the idea that next year Bradford would be great and the result was a lot of squandered resources. Now they can FINALLY cut their losses. They don’t have to mess around designing an offense for Bradford that gets throw out of the window after three games. They can feature Gurley and all they need is a mediocre game manager to hand the ball off and make the occasional 3rd and 2 pass. Maybe that’s not sexy but that can definitely be successful for them. So ditching Bradford means sweeping away the crap and focusing on their real talent.

    But the Eagles are in serious trouble after this season. Really serious trouble. The trade did nothing for them. Kelly has been able to go get whatever players he wanted but even with all that power he’s had mediocre results. He went to a lot of effort to get Bradford and said that he’d be the perfect guy and clearly that’s failed. This off-season they are in the same position as last year; without any exciting players or any clear plan of what to do.

    The Rams didn’t make promises about Foles and they were clearly already aiming for a run first offense this season, continuing with that next year. The Eagles have ended up with nothing. Neither team really ‘won’ but the Rams are going to end up in a better position.

    • crosseyedlemon

      With ever one of these guys plays less will likely hurt his team less and on that basis you have to figure the Eagles came out on top since Bradford is rarely healthy.

    • Ted Cruz Missile

      Do “run-first” offenses actually work anymore?

      Asking for a friend.

      • YoLoSwEg

        Seahawks from a couple years ago did.

      • Johnny Rotten

        Only if you have a great consistent defense. As you see with a team like the Seahawks. They win a Super Bowl, they have to pay their QB and their biggest stars so they lose some key conttibutors and all of a sudden the defense is inconsistent and no longer able to carry the team. Their run first offense never put up big points so its not enough when their defense gets exposed and gives up too many points.

      • Sam Doohan

        I don’t know if these days you can call any offense ‘run first’ in the same way as we would have done in the past but teams can certainly focus on the run and be successful today.

        Look at teams like Minnesota today. Bridgewater is a fine young QB but their team is at it’s best when they are sticking with AP and playing good defense. Last years Cowboys played like that, so did the Seahawks and this years Panthers. They’re still teams with great QBs who can sling the ball around but when they don’t have to do that every series they were much more successful. Just being more balanced on offense forces your opponents to always respect the run even on 3rd and long, which in turn makes for easier coverage to throw into.

        If you look at the Steelers over the last few years you can almost see on a game by game basis how much a great running game changes a team. Before Bell they were a perennially frustrating team, even in their last Super Bowl run. Ben had to carry the whole team and between injuries and mediocre play calling they kept falling short. And then Bell shows up and suddenly they’re a juggernaut. When he was injured in his first year they came back down to earth. This year they’ve got Williams and can stick with the run and they have stayed much more effective.

        So maybe teams today aren’t truely ‘run first’ but having a strong run game makes the QBs job easier and you don’t need a superstar to really excel.

      • D.K. Wilson

        Even New England would prefer to run the ball first. Look at Minnesota, look at Green Bay when they have a healthy RB, Detroit last season, Dallas last season, the Jets even with a limited QB, the Chiefs when they have a healthy RB, Seattle, Carolina, Oakland this season. That’s 10 teams off the top of my head who, when they successfully run first stand a better than average chance at winning… and we’re talking very good teams to mediocre teams.

  • Josh Stewart

    Both QBs have been horrible. Rams would have really won on this trade had they not have been dipshits and sign Foles to a 2 year extension before seeing him play a down for their team. If they didn’t do that, they would have freed up some salary since Foles is a lot cheaper, and got a 2nd round pick out of it. But like idiots, they payed him before the season and now they have money sitting on the bench.

    • Cant FixStupid

      It’s not that bad of a bad contract. It’s just under a 9 mil cap hit next year with 2017 going up to 13.25 mil, but they can cut him at that point with only a dead cap hit of 1 mil. Also, because it’s guaranteed money not up front in the form of signing bonus, they could trade him in the offseason and whatever guaranteed money he has left goes with him, and the Rams are only on the hook for the prorated part of the signing bonus, which would leave them with a dead cap hit of 2 mil. So it’s really not that bad at all. Either way, in the trade the QBs are pretty much a wash, but the Rams definitely come on on top because they got a 2nd and 4th round pick and only lost a 5th round pick. And if the Rams aren’t interested in keeping Foles next year, they could probably recoup the 5th they sent to Philly in return from some QB needy team.

    • Sam Schell-Olsen

      Yeah that was stupid as you can get..

  • Backinmd

    Foles almost had a career year with the Birds his 1st year ..Bradford started off like he was going to be a superstar QB with the Rams but every time he got into a rhythm he got hurt ..Wait until next year .. Next year Bradford would play well, not great, then got hurt again ..Wait until next year ..Same thing in his 3rd and 4th year –was playing great and got hurt again .Was Bradford a china doll ? ..Kinda a frail physique for a NFL QB — kinda reminds me of Joe Montana but taller ..Bart Starr passed on Montana because he was too skinny ,overruling his scouts on NFL draft day ..Bart Starr would have been GB head coach at least another ten years had he drafted Montana.. .. Foles is kinda a flash in the pan — the more games he plays the worse he gets ..After all of Bradford’s injuries, Fisher didn’t have much choice but to trade him …When Bradford was healthy he was great but too injury prone …If and buts …

  • johnforamerica

    Fisher lose his job? I WISH!!

    Nah, he’s doing exactly what Kroenke wants: overseeing the impending LA transition. THAT’S the main goal – record is incidental.