The NFL draft was the culmination of a life's journey for 253 lucky rookies over the weekend. It was also a shock of cold water to the face of many veterans now battling to keep their jobs.
For every draft dream that comes true, there is also collateral damage: NFL players who could be squeezed out of the starting lineup or off a roster entirely. For many veteran quarterbacks, the draft represented a last, best chance to find a worthy landing spot this offseason. No news proved to be bad news for most of them.
The Eagles called Sam Bradford's bluff. We don't blame Bradford for exercising the small leverage he had before the draft in an attempt to land elsewhere, but that leverage has passed. Skipping organized team activities and minicamp would be an example of Bradford cutting his nose to spite his face. As NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network, starting quarterback jobs are like a game of musical chairs. Bradford would be foolish to give up a chair on a promising team to prove an illogical point and brand himself a pouting $18 million backup.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Bradford is not returning calls from the Eagles' coaching staff, with coach Doug Pederson now acknowledging Bradford could lose his starting gig to Chase Daniel (or Carson Wentz). Bradford's camp believes the job eventually will be Wentz's. That's fine. Use the meantime like Drew Brees did in San Diego after the Chargers took Philip Rivers No. 4 and rehabilitate your value. We'd guess that Bradford shows up by the time mandatory minicamp starts after realizing the Eagles are his best option for 2016.
Bradford wasn't the only quarterback to suffer collateral damage over the weekend. Here's our complete list of veterans who were compromised by 2016 NFL Draft:
1-2. Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks: The Ramsfielded calls on Foles and were open to dealing Keenum, but nothing happened. Essentially, Bradford, Keenum and Foles were hoping to land in Denver. Now that doesn't appear likely to happen because the Broncos drafted Paxton Lynch. Foles was a Pro Bowler in 2013, and is now a third-string quarterback.
Denver was the "quarterback in limbo" prize landing spot this offseason, and Mark Sanchez somehow won that sweepstakes.
3. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback:Broncos big boss John Elway admitted he was "surprised" the Broncos couldn't consummate a deal for Kaepernick. Niners coach Chip Kelly now says Kaepernick will remain on the team, and we'd call him the presumptive favorite to start based on his guaranteed $11.9 million salary. Kaepernick apparently was unwilling to take a pay cut to go to Denver, so he traded keeping those dollars in exchange for potential wins. That's a trade almost any player would make.
4.*Jets quarterbacks*: Christian Hackenberg's arrival means that second-year pro Bryce Petty isn't even the highest-ranking developmental quarterback on the roster. Hackenberg could also make it difficult for Geno Smith to make the roster if Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs. As Chris Wesseling noted on our most recent podcast, it's not a great sign for the Jets when the team's QB1 will either start or be released (we still believe!).
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, must realize his contract offers won't improve. He likely will have to accept a one-year deal just to return to the Jets.
5. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans running back: General manager Jon Robinson's decision to draft running back Alabama running back Derrick Henry No. 45 overall was surprising because Murray is guaranteed $12 million over the next three seasons in Tennessee. Titans coach Mike Mularkey insists that Murray will still "carry the load" for the Titans, but it is curious Tennessee drafted such a similar one-cut power back. Both players would love to be high volume backs and that is less likely to happen for both of them over the next few years.
6-7. Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys running backs: Give owner Jerry Jones credit for not doubling down on McFadden's minor miracle 2015 campaign. McFadden is much more likely to stay healthy as a backup to No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott, while Alfred Morris is surely wondering how he fits at all. It's awkward to keep three active running backs who don't play special teams, so Morris could be waiting for an injury just to play.
8.*Pierre Garcon,Washington Redskins receiver*: Garcon and DeSean Jackson were listed as potential surprise salary-cap cuts after combining for 1,305 yards last year, but that never made a lot of sense. Both are paid handsomely yet remain high-level starters. Garcon is just likely to be starting elsewhere in 2017 after the Redskins drafted wide receiver Josh Doctson with the No. 22 overall pick. Tight end Jordan Reed and underrated slot man Jamison Crowder also are hungry for targets, so it will be tough for any Redskins receiver to put up monster numbers.
10. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver: The drafting of Laquon Treadwell in the first round was a reminder of how far the No. 29 overall pick of the 2013 draft has fallen in the organization. Patterson's fifth-year option was declined Monday. He will have to make the team as a return specialist because snaps at wide receiver are far from guaranteed. At least we'll always have this memory:
11. Riley Reiff, Detroit Lions offensive tackle: Perhaps drafting Taylor Decker No. 16 overall won't affect Reiff that much this season. Decker looks more likely to start on the right side, with Reiff holding down Matthew Stafford's blind side. Reiff should stay on the roster, but he will have to play better to be back.
14. Brian Hartline, Cleveland Browns receiver: A part-time starter, Hartline watched the Browns draft four wideouts over the weekend, including first-round pick Corey Coleman. That's great for Al Saunders and less so for Hartline. Veteran Andrew Hawkins should have a role as the team's slot receiver, so Hartline has a lot of bodies to fend off to keep his spot.
15. Green Bay Packers offensive tackles: It's rare to see Packers general manager Ted Thompson trade up in the draft (or convey human emotion). So it says plenty when he moved up to take tackle Jason Spriggs. Injuries could wind up deciding things by default but Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari have competition now.
17.*Zach Brown,Buffalo Bills linebacker*: Rex Ryan joked a few weeks back that Brown was the starter and the backup at weakside linebacker in Buffalo. Now the free-agent pickup is simply the backup. Buffalo plans to use second-round pick Reggie Ragland on the weakside next to Preston Brown in the middle.