The wild off-season ride in Philadelphia continues.
After saying goodbye to their leading rusher (LeSean McCoy) and leading receiver (Jeremy Maclin), the Eagles continued their roster churn on Tuesday, sending Nick Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford. Philadelphia will also receive the Rams' 2015 fifth-round pick, while St. Louis will get a fourth-rounder this year and a conditional second-rounder next season.
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, gives Chip Kelly a talented but fragile option under center. In five seasons he has missed 31 of 80 games, playing a full season just twice. But when healthy, he's shown talent. In seven games before hurting his knee in 2013 he compiled 1,687 passing yards, 14 TDs and just four interceptions while leading the Rams to a 3–4 record. That season ended with a torn ACL, however, and Bradford re-tore the same ligament months later, costing him the 2014 season as well.
Is he a fit for what Kelly wants to run in Philadelphia? Even before his knee injuries, he wasn't a mobile quarterback, but Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have emphasized that the system they run can fit any smart quarterback.
"I think we run a quarterback-friendly system," Pat Shurmur told reporters, "as long as you're a good decision-maker. The No. 1 attribute for a quarterback is being able to make good, solid decisions."
[daily_cut.nfl]The system was certainly friendly to Foles, at least in his first year as a starter. In 2013, Foles led the Eagles to an 8–2 record, passing for 2,891 yards, 27 TDs and just two interceptions. He regressed in 2014, tossing 10 interceptions in eight games before breaking his collarbone. At the end of that injured season, Kelly refused to commit to Foles as the long-term starter, leading many to speculate a move was imminent.
In St. Louis, Foles inherits a team many believe is just a quarterback away from contending. The Rams finished 6–10 last season in the brutal NFC West while starting a combination of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill under center. With the defense returning at full strength, and the 49ers slipping back to the pack, St. Louis should be poised to make noise in 2015.
Both quarterbacks are in the last year of their deals, with Foles carrying a $1.67M cap hit and Bradford holding a gargantuan $16.58M hit.
Grade for St. Louis: B-plus
Bradford was largely considered untouchable given his huge cap number, and St. Louis is lucky to get something for him without him restructuring his deal. In Foles, the Rams get a QB one year removed from a fantastic season, but the question remains if he can recreate that magic outside of Kelly's system. Jeff Fisher and Co. will happily take a healthy signal-caller under center given the uncertainty with Bradford over the last few seasons. If Foles flops, the Rams can move on after 2015. But if he can even come close to recreating 2013, the Rams could be scary good.
Grade for Philadelphia: C
What is Chip doing? The question has been asked plenty of times this off-season, but this may serve as the biggest head-scratcher. Sure, Bradford has talent, but he hasn't shown that he can stay healthy thus far in his NFL career, and a quarterback-friendly system won't work with an injured quarterback. Is this a prelude to a draft-day trade for Oregon QB Marcus Mariota? Whatever the case, the pressure is now firmly on Kelly to make it work with the personnel of his choosing.