If the Eagles trade Sam Bradford, where would he go?


Sam Bradford was given an $11 million signing bonus by the Eagles in March. Two months later, he wants out of Philadelphia.

Bradford's mediocre track record and enormous compensation since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2010 make him a natural butt of jokes. His decision to request a trade and stay out of the team facility could make him less popular in Philadelphia than Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

In what could be the most Sam Bradford story ever, the Eagles insist Bradford is their starter even as he tries to leave town.

"I want to reiterate our support for Sam Bradford. He is our starting quarterback," Eagles executive vice president Howie Roseman told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia on Monday.

Speaking about Bradford's anger regarding the Eagles' recent trade to acquire the No. 2 overall draft pick, Roseman said, "I think as a competitor emotions come into play. That's what makes these guys great players."

Two questions naturally arise from that statement: Does Bradford want to compete? And can he be a great player?

The Eagles don't see Bradford as truly great or as their long-term answer at quarterback. The two-year contract they gave him felt like a necessary evil. He was a better option than any free agent available on the market, and the team accepted that $18 million per year is the new going rate for an average starting quarterback.

Bradford's contract details paradoxically makes it tougher for the Eagles to swallow a trade, and it makes Bradford more attractive on the trade market. So what happens next?

He'll likely stay

Bradford staying in Philadelphia remains the most likely option when the dust settles. The Eagles want him to be their starter, and they gave him an $11 million signing bonus -- a sunk cost. Roseman has enjoyed a strong offseason, but telling an owner that you've flushed that much money down the toilet would be difficult.

Bradford is exercising the little leverage that he has. His agent understands that putting this news out on the Monday before the NFL draft could spur a team to offer Philadelphia a draft pick for him.

If no teams bite, Bradford is in a tough position. Holding out of organzied team activities and mandatory minicamps is risky for a player who is highly compensated and presumably would like to play this season. If Bradford wants to hold out of training camp, the Eagles can start to go after 25 percent of his signing bonus. That's why we'd expect Bradford to return to the practice field soon if he isn't traded.

Holding out of work after signing a big contract could be unprecedented move. It's going to get Bradford painted as a spoiled athlete, whether he likes it or not.

"Bradford has made over $100 million. ZERO winning seasons. ZERO playoffs. And now his feelings are hurt because he's being asked to compete?" CSN Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote Monday on Twitter, channeling the inner id of Eagles fans.

Then again, perhaps Bradford knows a trade is not such a crazy option for Philadelphia.

The case for a trade

The Eagles are well positioned to live without Bradford. They have Chase Montana Daniel in place to hold the fort in coach Doug Pederson's offense until the No. 2 overall pick (presumably Carson Wentz) is ready. More importantly, the Eagles would get another player in return.

If the Denver Broncos were willing to give a mid-round draft pick for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, they could conceivable do the same for Bradford.

The only thing holding up a Kaepernick deal has been finances. But Bradford's contract figures to be a selling point for interested teams. Bradford is only due $7 million in base salary for 2016 before $17 million in total compensation next season ($4 million in 2017 is guaranteed). Trading for Bradford would be essentially a one-year tryout for the low, low cost that Daniel is making from the Eagles.

Although eating an $11 million signing bonus mistake would not be easy, a draft pick would soften the blow. Bradford only figures to be with the Eagles one more season. A rookie would be on a four-year contract. So where could Bradford realistically go?

Potential landing spots

1. Denver Broncos: There isn't a lot of connective tissue between the Broncos and Bradford, but he certainly played better last season than Kaepernick. It would also give the Broncos a chance to bring the magic of the Eagles' 2015 quarterback room all the way to Denver.

2. New York Jets: General manager Mike Maccagnan has said he doesn't want to mortgage the future for the present. That's why the team refuses to give Ryan Fitzpatrick top quarterback money. It would be a surprise if the Jets decided Bradford was a better option, but perhaps they would feel differently if they can't draft a quarterback this week.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Reunited with Chip Kelly and it feels so good! Colleague Chris Wesseling suggested a three-way deal involving the Broncos and Eagles that would set the draft on fire.

4. Cleveland Browns: The Browns have two stop-gap veterans in Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. It would be an odd move to replace McCown with another one. Cleveland seems far more likely to take a player in the draft.

The Eagles hold the cards here. They don't want to trade Bradford and they don't particularly have to. It's possible that a team makes an aggressive offer to get Bradford, but his market doesn't figure to be that hot.

The Eagles are more likely to call Bradford's bluff and wait for him to return to his job in May. That's how the NFL works for average starters.