It’s time for Sam Bradford to finally start living up to his hefty contract.
And of course that gargantuan deal is no fault of his own or the St. Louis Rams given that he was drafted the year before the league instituted the new rookie wage scale. The former Oklahoma was just handed $50 million guaranteed – the most guaranteed money included in a deal in NFL history – straight out of college. It’s pretty hard to say no to that, eh student loans?
In total, that contract was a six-year deal worth $76 million, with a maximum value of $86 million. Now obviously Bradford has done more to earn his chunk of change than JaMarcus Russell did to justify his, but there are still unfulfilled expectations given his monster salary. In fact, Bradford carries the ninth highest cap hit in the league this year at nearly $12.6 million – that number will jump to sixth in the league in 2014 at $17.6 million.
Needless to say, the Rams have to have some concerns about the leader of their franchise moving forward, right? Not according to general manager Les Snead who answered the question quite matter-of-factly according to ESPN as he said:
So the team that dealt away the rights to grab Robert Griffin III for a bounty of first rounders is more than content with their decision. Now that that’s out of the way, he’s been given the unenviable task of playing alongside a bunch of guys younger than him.
Wait, he’s only 25-years-old, how is this possible?
A revamped offense for the Rams this year will feature skill position players at wide receiver and running back with a combined average age of just 23. And all of those guys have some speed to burn as starting running back Daryl Richardson and rookie do-it-all receiver Tavon Austin have already proven in training camp and the preseason. Explosive plays should be the norm in St. Louis this season, and Bradford will be the conductor of the orchestra.
Throw free agent additions in tight end Jared Cook and stalwart left tackle Jake Long into the mix, and you have what appears to finally be a promising scenario for Bradford to produce. After enduring two hapless seasons as a rookie and second-year player, the Rams finally rose from the ashes (somewhat) a year ago under Jeff Fisher with Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. That may be the key ingredient in this entire equation with Schotty back for year two giving Bradford his first time with the same system for the second season in a row.
And he has no shortage of support with GM Snead weighing in on Bradford saying:
“There will be an evolutionary period. Jared Cook to the starting wide receivers will be different, so the more we get on stage and play, the more timing we’ll get and the better we will be. But I love the guy [Bradford]. Jacked about him. It’s an understatement that you can’t go find people of his makeup, smarts and talent. They just don’t come around.”
As Snead said before, there is no questioning Bradford in his mind.
“The questions are, did we get the right people around him and did we get the right line in front of him? We’re close. I’ve compared us a little bit to Green Bay. The Packers started young a few years ago, and then they became the Packers. You didn’t know who Greg Jennings was. Now you do. That’s how I envision us. Aaron [Rodgers] got time to grow.”
Forgive me for getting excited, but those comparisons really are spot on. This Rams team has the makings of something special – something dynasty-esque. They can’t change the division they play in with the brutal NFC West competition, but they have done everything possible to attain success within it.
Look for Sam Bradford to take that leap in 2013 and silence all of the doubters once and for all this season.