By John McMullen
PHILADELPHIA - Every transaction in the NFL is essentially a cost-benefit analysis. You try to determine the upside of a potential move, and weigh that against what it takes to get it done.
From a traditional general manager's perspective, the Eagles acquisition of oft-injured quarterback Sam Bradford didn't make a lot of sense from both a football and financial context.
On one hand. Chip Kelly certainly does like Bradford's skill set because he gave up a quarterback who put up better numbers while being paid significantly less in Nick Foles, and added a second-round draft choice on top of it. Meanwhile, the Eagles' football czar also reportedly fended off Cleveland's overtures in the form of a first-round pick or Johnny Manziel for the former No. 1 overall pick.
However, Kelly also tried to load up the U-Haul with everything from Bradford, draft picks and proven veteran players in a thinly veiled attempt to acquire Marcus Mariota, and he has also refused to give Bradford anything resembling a viable extension offer to this point.
"I'm not 100 percent confident in anything," Kelly said earlier this offseason when asked about Bradford and his future. "No one is ... We're going to put together a team. We think Sam has a great skill set. The
research our doctors have given us in terms of the guys coming off (ACL) injuries in terms of their recovery rate is 90 percent, so we feel real confident in that."
Confidence is good but what is the ceiling here for the Eagles?
NFL Media created a bit of a stir on Monday by reporting that Bradford, the presumptive Week 1 starter, plans to play out the final year of his massive rookie deal rather than sign an extension.
The spin from the Bradford camp being that he is "betting on himself."
Of course, that narrative assumes Philadelphia has more than a passing interest in signing Bradford to anything other than a bargain-basement deal right now, rather specious logic.
After all the phrase "betting on one's self" intimates you have a viable option and that's simply not the case for Bradford, who is owed nearly $13 million in 2015 and has played just seven games over the past two campaigns due to back-to-back ACL tears over a 20-month period.
The Eagles had to take the wait-and-see approach but the real problem here stems from an eventual outcome that paints Bradford as successful in 2015.
Think about it?
If he's a disaster ... no problem, you wash your hands of a bad trade and move on to the next candidate at the position. But if Bradford's really good, anything short of the University of Oklahoma product turning into Tom Brady and piloting Philadelphia to a Super Bowl championship, a scenario even the most ardent Kelly acolytes would have a tough time picturing, is an issue.
Let's say the Eagles remain stuck at 10 wins but take a step forward and win a playoff encounter behind a healthy Bradford who throws for over 4,000 yards and 35 TDs in Kelly's supposed quarterback-proof offense. That's a pretty high ceiling for this player and a scenario still not worthy of investing significant money and time into because of Bradford's prior history in St. Louis. However, it's also an end game which will not allow the Eagles to just walk away unfettered.
More than ever, it's obvious Kelly's envisioned long-term answer at the position now calls Nashville home, and his Plan B has no discernible exit strategy absent Bradford's failure as a player.