On its surface, the recently completed Sam Bradford trade seems to be incredibly one-sided. How did the Eagles manage to get a first rounder and what will be a 4th rounder at worst for a quarterback who had a 19:14 TD:INT ratio, 7.0 YPA, and a pedestrian 86.4 QBR? And more importantly, why did the Vikings give up such prime draft capital for a QB when they still see Teddy Bridgewater as the quarterback of their future? No matter how you slice it, this deal makes a lot of sense for the Eagles. Bradford had undeniably played his way out of their long term plans, and moving him gave them two quality draft picks and freed up playing time for Carson Wentz, the man they deemed ready to take hold of the QB job and hopefully carry it deep into the future.
However, I believe that this trade also makes more sense for the Vikings than many people realize. First of all, while Bradford may not be the star many people thought he would be when he was drafted #1 overall, he still has the talent to be more than just serviceable in the NFL. That’s something that cannot be said about Shaun Hill, the Vikings’ 36 year old career backup who they envisioned providing more of a mentoring role for the younger quarterbacks. Yes, he just won his first start last Sunday as Bradford continued to learn the playbook, but their offense was atrocious and his inability to push the ball down the field allowed the Titans to stack the box and hold Adrian Peterson, the key to the offense, in check. Even so, if it’s possible for them to win games with Shaun Hill, why give up what they did for an upgrade? What people fail to realize is how good this roster is; there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re built to win now. With a healthy Teddy Bridgewater last year, they were a missed 27 yard field goal away from beating the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round: and from there, who knows how far they could’ve taken their season. Quite simply, while Shaun Hill may have been able to keep the team afloat, he wasn’t going to take this team where they want to go, and with a roster this talented the Vikings front office justifiably wasn’t about to give up on their season.
Despite this, doesn’t the trade feel like a massive overpay? While the price was certainly steep, it becomes more palatable when considering just how good their recent drafts have been. Since 2013, they’ve compiled a strong number of contributors who range from quality starters to key reserves including Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs, Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater, Sharrif Floyd, and Xavier Rhodes. There’s also still hope for 2015 first round pick Trae Waynes to carve out a niche in the back end of Mike Zimmer’s defense, and rookies Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander bring top-level talent that puts them squarely on the radar as potential future contributors. By now you get the point: they’re not hurting for young talent, so losing high draft picks won’t hurt them as much as it would hurt a team like the Cleveland Browns, who mind-bogglingly don’t carry a single one of their 8 first round picks from 2011-2014. Additionally, if Bradford plays well for the Vikings and Bridgewater is ready as hoped for the 2017 season, they could trade him after year one and recoup at least some of what they gave up for him. After all, the Eagles were criticized at the time of their trade for giving up too much for Sam Bradford, and in flipping him to the Vikings they’re now reaping the benefits.
So, while the recent Sam Bradford trade seems lopsided at face value, I would call it a worthy gamble for the Vikings. The fact that the Vikings’ front office went all in to try to keep this team in contention is certainly commendable, and I think it has tremendous potential to pay off down the line. They’re not going to emerge as having “beaten” the Eagles due to the obvious value from the Eagles’ perspective, but they’re no shoo-in to lose the deal either. For this reason, I believe that a win/win scenario is much more likely than people realize, and it will almost certainly be less lopsided than it’s currently perceived as being barring injury.