Who Does Sam Bradford Think he is?

(Photo via philly.com)

Gee, it must be great getting paid $36 million over two years to play football. Well, apparently, Sam Bradford doesn’t think so. As news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles packaged a horde of draft picks to move up to the 2nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, it became nearly certain that the Eagles had their sights set on Carson Wentz as their QB of the future, assuming Cal QB Jared Goff goes first. That left Sam Bradford, who just signed a 2 year, $36 million contract with the team, feeling “unwanted”. Now, he has made it clear he wants out of Philly, and is refusing to show up to any of the off-season workouts. If only he knew how lucky he was.

Keep in mind: although Philly has plans of drafting Wentz in the first round, Bradford was a lock for the Eagles starting job this year. The team wants to give Wentz at least a year or two to learn from the bench before taking the helm as starter. So, the job was all Bradford’s for the 2016 season, maybe the next season as well. Not only would Bradford be starting, but he would have a chance to display his skills to the league and hopefully get another hefty contract coming off of this current two-year deal. Most QBs in this league, a league with a 3-4 year average shelf-life, would kill to be in his position. But, obviously, the 2010 first round draft pick sees himself in a greater role.

Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, expressed his client’s concerns regarding this situation. “Basically, our contention is that the team could have used the draft picks on offensive and defensive players for this season, to win this season. If the plan was to build for the future, where does that leave Sam this year?” (ESPN.com) Sure, Bradford has a point; he wants to be the franchise piece and not a stop-gap for their future solution at quarterback. But, he is completely missing the point. Frankly, when people think of Sam Bradford, they don’t think of a “franchise quarterback”. Instead, they think of an injury prone draft bust who has a losing record in his 5 years as an NFL starter. He’s averaging a million dollars earned for every touchdown thrown in his career, $58 million in career earning to go with 58 touchdown passes. His job isn’t to demand a safe home where he can play, his job is to compete and prove to NFL coaches around the league that he is truly the guy capable of manning the ship. Instead, his trade request just comes off as cowardice and spoiled.

I do not understand how Bradford feels entitled to this kind of “special treatment”. Maybe the money is getting to his head. Let’s not forget, he did receive the largest amount of guaranteed money at the time he was drafted. This was the year before the new CBA agreement created a rookie wage scale that significantly reduced the guaranteed money paid to rookies. Just for perspective, Bradford received a 6-year, $72 million contract ($50 million guaranteed) as a rookie. The next year, after the new CBA was implemented, Cam Newton (another fellow 1st overall pick) received a 4 year, $22 million contract. Cam is now the league’s reigning MVP, and Sam is the average QB who can’t quite understand what opportunity looks like.

No one was saying that by drafting Wentz this year that Bradford can’t be the Eagles starter for the future either. He simply could have worked harder and potentially outperform Wentz in training camp and retain his starting role for years to come. But he felt too pressured by Wentz, forcing this trade request. This surely says something about Bradford’s confidence level in his own game.

After this public outcry for a new home, this leaves Bradford in an even worse situation than he could have had. For one, even if he wants to be traded, that doesn’t mean other teams want to take care of this spoiled QB with a $36 million price tag to his name. And if he stays put in Philly, which seems like the likely option, he’s going to have to play through the harsh criticisms not only from the noisy Philly fans, but from his teammates. It remains to be seen how this move will affect his public image, but it seems certain that he’s not going to be that franchise player that he hopes for. Real franchise players let their play do the talking, not their contracts.

– J. Yellin

RG3 and Browns Looking for a Clean Slate

(Photo via ign.com)

After weeks of speculation, it has officially been announced that Robert Griffin III, former 2nd overall pick and 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner, will be joining the Cleveland Browns. Clearly this is a match made in heaven, right? Two misfits trying to find their place in the league have decided to join forces and lead the lonely Browns to victory. What can possibly go wrong? Well, if you ask the Browns and new head coach Hue Jackson, they sound convinced that RG3 is starting to turn a page in his career. When asked about his growth through the years, Jackson said, “You want to see if he’s humble, if he’s grown from his experience, because in the NFL you have to keep growing,” (usatoday.com). Apparently, they have a plan in mind, it’s just that when you are talking about the Browns, you truly never know.

People around the league believe that RG3 will be a great fit in Cleveland due to the healthy support system that he has in place. Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton can help Griffin in many ways that Jay Gruden simply could not. Griffin did start to show some signs of maturity, as he accepted the role as Kirk Cousin’s backup for the entire 2015 season. He surely still has some physical attributes that set him back from being an elite QB, but at least we know he is in a better state of mind than he was during his Washington years. And lucky for Griffin, this time, the burden of the team’s success may not fall solely on his shoulders.

Although Browns are prepared to have Griffin compete for the starting job in Cleveland, they are still prepared to take a QB with their 2nd pick in the first round (RG3 also just-so happened to be picked with the 2nd overall pick in 2012). They can take either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, but it seems like the North Dakota State product seems to be the QB higher up on most analysts’ draft boards. Hypothetically, if Wentz was to be drafted by the Browns, then all of the pressure will be off of Griffin, perhaps for the first time in his career. Griffin will have the freedom to compete for, and likely capture the starting job for 2016. But this year is not the year Browns fans are particularly concerned about. With or without Carson Wentz starting at QB for them, it seems certain that no one was expecting a big splash from the Browns this year anyways. Their focus is on developing their future, as their rebuilding process wanes on. And I actually think Griffin can become a solid bridge QB for their future.

This recent move provides the Browns with numerous opportunities. Sure, they can use that 2nd overall pick to draft another area of need, like their atrocious defense, but keeping Wentz on the bench for half or the entire year I think will prove to be the best investment the Browns have made in years. If RG3 plays well, than that is all the better for both the Browns and Wentz’ development. Wentz can watch a former highly-touted, highly ridiculed prospect succeed in the NFL in a way that can take the pressure off of his own game. And Griffin can rise to the challenge and make himself a valuable commodity once again for GMs and owners to see. It seems ever more clear that for the first time in perhaps a decade (maybe longer), the Cleveland Browns are finally ready to put this “QB-Abyss” chapter of their long history to a close.

– J. Yellin

Carson Wentz: From FCS QB to Future Phenom

(Photo via grandforksherald.com)

Every year in the draft, a lot of attention is given to the QB prospects, and rightfully so, as they have become the most important position of any football team. And maybe of any other major sport. With the NFL Scouting Combine next up on the pre-draft agenda, all teams, whether it be the 1st pick or the 32nd, have their eyes pointed towards the QBs. And no QB stands out quite like Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. While many have never heard of him, being that he has played college ball in the FCS division, there is no question about his impressive abilities and talents at the quarterback position.

He has a prototypical build at 6-foot-5 and 232 lbs., and is very familiar with the pro-style offense. In only seven games during his senior year due to an injury that sidelined him for two months, Wentz still put up 1,651 yards and 23 total touchdowns (17 passing, 6 rushing). Not only that, but he was able to lead his North Dakota squad to their 5th consecutive FCS Championship. Plain and simple, he was the finest, most polished NFL prospect that the FCS has seen in years.

Besides his physical tools, Carson Wentz displays superior intelligence and a tremendous work ethic both on and off the field. He has been the outright leader of the Bison since starting at QB in 2014, and his profound knowledge of the game can help him pick up an NFL playbook fairly quickly. He’s a proven winner, and coming from a small program, he is extremely humble. Some, like notable NFL Draft analyst Mike Mayock, have even said recently that Wentz has an Andrew Luck-type ceiling. And I agree with him. He can make all the NFL throws and can stand tall in the pocket with the ability to fire with precision. Wentz is also incredibly athletic who has great pocket awareness. In many people’s eyes, including mine, Carson Wentz can do everything that any team hopes their franchise QB can do.

This is huge for an FCS quarterback. Someone who has never been given a spotlight now has the potential to be the face of a franchise for years to come. The Cleveland Browns, who hold the 2nd overall pick and have been in desperate need of a QB since the Tim Couch days, have a chance to lock up their future by taking Wentz. Can it be, Cleveland fans?

Still, of course, there is that chance of it not working out, but if I were any QB-needy NFL team, I would not hesitate when deciding on drafting him. The FCS system has allowed him to hone his skills without the pressures of living up to anybody’s expectations. He has forever been the mystery man in the college football world, but his presence will surely shake up the NFL in due time.

– J. Yellin