Sam Bradford Contract Extension Debate: What Should Eagles Do?


Many thought that Sam Bradford would strictly be a trade chip to get Marcus Mariota, but as the days until the draft ticked down, it seemed more and more that Chip Kelly traded for Bradford to be the team’s next starting quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles are now just under a month away from training camp and Bradford is still finishing up his recovery from his ACL tear last year. He should be fully healed by the time the season starts and is expected to be the starter. So, the question comes up: should the Eagles think about extending Bradford’s contract before the season starts?

This is hypothetically a very risky situation for both sides. With Bradford’s injury history, there’s no telling whether or not his knee could give out again. Another season-ending injury wouldn’t be totally crippling to the franchise since they have Mark Sanchez right behind him, and because of the fact that Bradford has just one year left on his current deal. But, if they were to extend him before the season ended and he got hurt, it would look really bad. It would be very, very difficult to come back from three straight big injuries and be able to perform at a high level. But, if they had already signed him, they’re stuck with him.

For example, the Cardinals signed Carson Palmer to an extension in the middle of last year after he was having a very strong season. The deal was three years for $50 million. Just two days after he signed the extension, he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the year. Obviously, there is no way to know that will happen, but had the Cardinals waited until the end of the season, they would’ve gotten him at a slight discount. Now, at 35, Palmer will have to overcome some odds to return to the level of play he was at last year.

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However, signing Bradford to an extension either before the season starts or early on in the season has some strong advantages. At this point, he is young and still has high potential to be a great quarterback. He is finally in a situation where he’ll have weapons and a strong offensive line. It’s the perfect situation for him. But, he still has to prove all of that, and therefore has lower value at the moment. If they signed him before he started playing well, then they would get him below his actual value. This would be very beneficial, especially if they got him to sign a long-term deal.

There’s the idea of security though, which is something I’m sure Bradford would like. With the chance of re-injury still looming over him, he probably wants to make sure he gets a long-term deal at some point. Whether he would rather wait is unknown, but it was reported a few weeks ago that he and the Eagles had preliminary talks of an extension, but that no progress was made. As the article suggests, he isn’t in a huge rush to sign a new deal.

Of course, Bradford is aware of all of this. He knows that if he signs a deal before the season starts, he’s going to get less money than he would if he had a great year and re-signed in the offseason. I doubt he would enter free agency and end up signing with a different team if he had a great year, but he will certainly be entitled to more money.

Bradford already has a cap hit of $12.95 million in 2015, so if he has a big year, he will certainly want more than that. Forget about giving him a hypothetical $10 million a year. If he exceeds expectations and stays healthy, he could easily ask for $16-18 million per year or more. Ryan Tannehill just signed a four year, $77 million extension, and he hasn’t even been to a playoff game. If Bradford leads the Eagles to a playoff win, it’s only fair that he asks for a big raise.

According to, the Eagles have about $14.1 million in cap space right now, so they’re not exactly pressed up against the cap. And that number includes the near $13 million hit from Bradford’s current deal. Even if he were to get a $5 or so million raise, it wouldn’t exactly break the bank. If they think they found their franchise quarterback, then that raise is necessary.

I don’t expect a deal to get done before the season starts, but there’s always the possibility they could figure it all out early on in the year. However, because the maximum likely raise that he could get isn’t too large, I think waiting is the safest bet for the Eagles. Worst case scenario, he struggles or gets hurt and they don’t re-sign him. Best case scenario, he has a great year and they now have a franchise quarterback. Either way seems good to me.

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