On the Monday before the NFL Draft instead of learning about late-round sleepers or early-round trades I was getting schooled in the finer, minute details of arbitration law as the media was swept up by the frenzied revival of the two-year-old Deflategate scandal. After a tired, yet satisfying chortle at the Pats dispense, I strolled the Internet to find another headline attempting to win the day, QB Sam Bradford had demanded a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles after their decision to move up the draft board to take a franchise quarterback.
I was surprised to see teams and fans, alike, speculating if Bradford could be a good fit for them; my beloved, fellow quarterback starved Jets fans were no exception.
My quick take: let’s pour a drink, relax and just stay away from Bradford: essentially he’s not worth whatever it is Philadelphia is going to want.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Eagles will be looking for more than a 2nd round pick for Bradford, seeing as he is still penned in as their starting quarterback for 2016, no matter who they draft on Thursday. The Jets should focus on acquiring picks for their already thin draft class, and GM Mike Maccagnan seems keen on doing that. The other issue with Bradford is the reason he’s seeking a trade: he wants job security past this season, which means giving him guaranteed money in year two. Bradford is set to make $13 million in 2017, and in any new contract he will be looking for more than the $4 million he has guaranteed already. Remember, this is the same player who got a $50 million contract before he ever took an NFL snap.
If we are looking to invest money into a quarterback for at least two years, the obvious choice for the Jets is with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets have made it clear that their intention is to re-sign Fitzpatrick, however the two sides still haven’t reached a comfortable compromise. I’m fairly confident the Jets will strike a deal with Fitzpatrick, it’s now just a matter of when and for how much, but Fitzpatrick’s market is all but dried up, shouldn’t be long now.
If I was doing the deal I would let it sit until about mid May and suggest a contract worth around $19 million; $14 million of that guaranteed: $9 million in 2016, $5 million in 2017, with up to $2 million in incentives next year depending on play time and performance. Remember, it’s not that the Jets can’t afford him, it’s that they have a strict valuation on the quarterback. This is a real strong sign from Maccagnan and a test on his patience as a second year GM.
While Fitzpatrick and Bradford are statistically comparable, Fitz has proven to be more durable than Bradford, although neither have clean injury reports. Fitzpatrick also plays with an intensity that I believe Head Coach Todd Bowles wants in his starting quarterback. I can’t imagine Sam Bradford sprinting to tackle a defender on a turnover, or fearlessly leaning into a hit the way Fitzpatrick does on a scramble.
Fitz is a Grade-A locker room guy; a natural leader who has excellent chemistry with WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker as well as a supreme Harvard knowledge of Chan Gailey’s system. He’s a wily vet coming off the best season of his career. Bradford is a whiny vet coming off a glass knee and a Chip Kelly train-wreck.
Let’s just stand back and let the Patriots have the divisions Quarterback comedy for once.