On ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike earlier on Tuesday, St. Louis Rams head coach doused any potential fires by stating that the team was committed to quarterback Sam Bradford moving forward.
You could almost hear the sigh of relief from half of St. Louis; the groans from the other half were just as loud.
Bradford has proven to be a divisive figure in St. Louis sports. You’re either an apologist or a hater – there’s very little common ground.
Whichever side of the coin you prefer, this much is clear: getting rid of Bradford (most logically by cutting him) would be a short-sighted move for 2014. Sure the Rams would save some money – he counts $17.6 million against the cap for this season – but the financial relief can be accomplished by redoing his contract or signing him to an extension.
The bigger issue would be the gaping hole at quarterback for a team determined to make the postseason for the first time since 2004. The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with signal callers who have the potential to lead a team. But are any of them going to give the Rams a better chance next season than Bradford?
By no means am I against change or shaking up an organization. But with all the other holes the Rams have to fill – offensive line, the secondary, receiving corps – why waste one of two prime picks on a position you already have covered? In this case, the Rams are better off trying to support Bradford by upgrading the talent around him.
Around the league, Bradford is still viewed in a favorable light. True, his star has dimmed somewhat since his rookie year in 2010. But it’s not often that a 26-year-old, four-year veteran starting quarterback becomes available. For that reason alone, ESPN’s Mike Sando stated Bradford would have no shortage of suitors.
Quarterback is the most valuable position in football and teams are willing to (over)pay for even mediocre production.
Jay Cutler’s new seven-year $126.7 million deal with the Chicago Bears comes with $54 million guaranteed. Having just completed his eighth season in the NFL, Cutler has never had a quarterback rating higher than 89.2 (set last season) and has produced one playoff win.
Joe Flacco, he of the six-year, $120.6 million contract, has never thrown for 4,000 yards and has a career quarterback rating of 83.7. He did lead the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl title in 2012, so at least he earned some hardware before cashing in.
These are just two examples across the league. Quarterbacks get paid obscene amounts of money, and very few have actually produced at a consistently elite level.
Bradford’s first four seasons have left something to be desired. It’s fair to say he has not been worth $78 million, $50 million of which was guaranteed. But cutting him at this point would be a short-sided move, especially with all the moves that have been made to set him up for success.
The Rams have been trying to establish a model of consistency and stability. Uprooting their quarterback unnecessarily (at this point) would hurt those efforts.