It’s hard to forget the story of former first overall selection, David Carr, who was taken by the Houston Texans and used as a human piñata by the 31 other teams around the NFL thereafter. For Sam Bradford, his story hasn’t been all that much different during his first three years with the St. Louis Rams. His streak of being sacked in 30 straight games did come to an end last season, but his 105 trips to the turf in 42 career starts have to be discouraging.
The team made a concerted effort to improve things for Bradford in the upcoming season by adding him a blindside protector in Jake Long which has a twofold benefit by allowing former left tackle, Rodger Saffold to switch over to the right side. Free agency also brought a new pass catching weapon in tight end Jared Cook while do-it-all wideout Tavon Austin arrived via the 2013 NFL Draft.
While all of these improvements are great on paper, Bradford still must get the job done on the field. 2012 was a career year in terms of yardage (3,702) and touchdowns (21), but the former first overall pick in 2010 must build on that success this coming year. His development as an on-field leader certainly took a big leap forward last season as well with Bradford leading the Rams on a three game winning streak that included two straight come from behind victories.
Even though there isn’t any competition looming on the current roster, the quarterback clock is ticking on Bradford with the Rams. If he can’t continue to show marked improvement in the coming season the salary cap may force the team to seriously evaluate its options moving forward. The two biggest cap hit years from his massive rookie deal still loom in 2014 and 2015 at $17.6 million and $16.6 million respectively. That makes the $12.6 million number in 2013 look like a bargain as the team tries to evaluate just what may serve them best moving forward.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher said that Sam Bradford was a main reason behind him taking the Rams job back in February of last year. While that may still be the case, the team can’t handcuff itself to the QB forever. The weapons are in place for continued success in St. Louis, and there is plenty of pressure on Bradford to perform in 2013 as a result.