It’s hard to believe in today’s NFL that a player at the league’s most position can be simply tossed out like old produce, but that seems to be the way things are trending. For Sam Bradford, this has to be awfully disconcerting as he enters his fourth season with the franchise that selected him number one overall back in 2010. Bradford was the last of the huge salary rookies to come into the league first overall, and that fact has been weighing on the St. Louis Rams franchise ever since.
A couple of months ago I discussed the ramifications of the old collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and how those constraints were still cumbersome for the Rams even today. The three year stretch from 2008 to 2010 where the Rams selected second overall twice and first overall once really hamstrung the organization. While one of those picks is already signed to a new deal in defensive end Chris Long and another is already out of town in offensive tackle Jason Smith, Bradford remains with a huge cap number over the next three years.
That all leads to the proclamation that this season may be a make or break one for the former Oklahoma Sooner. His $9 million salary for the 2013 season is not enormous by quarterback standards, but $8 million of it is guaranteed and he actually counts $12.6 million against the cap. Add in the fact that those numbers increase to $14 million in 2014 with a $17.6 million scheduled cap hit and things get dicey.
While many may believe the Rams already had their chance and passed on the mulligan to start over at the quarterback position last year with Robert Griffin III that may not be the case. When signal callers like Alex Smith, Matt Flynn and Carson Palmer relocate for mid-round draft picks during the offseason, there is hope for finding a more than capable man under center in free agency or the trade market. Add in the fact that the Seattle Seahawks found a gem in Russell Wilson in round three last year and a solid starter doesn’t necessarily have to come from a top draft choice.
One thing is for sure: this Rams team is constructed to succeed now with Bradford. The offensive rebuild this offseason has been tremendous bringing in better protection with Jake Long, a legit tight end weapon in Jared Cook, and a speedy all-purpose nightmare in Tavon Austin via the 2013 NFL Draft. If Bradford doesn’t show signs of turning the corner this season, he may be looking for a new place to call home following the 2013 campaign.