Two weeks ago, I penned an open letter to St. Louis Rams CEO Kevin Demoff asking him not to give Sam Bradford a contract extension. With Bradford's uneven performances, his already exorbitant base salary and a quarterback-rich 2014 draft, I felt it was foolish for the Rams to commit to Bradford long term at this point.
Sam Bradford's ACL injury makes the extension a moot point as he'll not be able to continue to make a case for himself the rest of 2013. Instead, the injury forces the Rams' hand. They absolutely must draft a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Of course we're assuming (safely, I think) that neither Kellen Clemens or whatever bargain basement backup the Rams have complete 2013 doesn't pull a Kurt Warner and take the Rams on a Cinderella trip to the Super Bowl. While that would be nice, it probably isn't going to happen. That means that, even in a best case scenario, you have a rehabbing Sam Bradford starting training camp in 2014 with tons of question marks attached to him, not the least of which is that he's entering the final year of his contract.
Assuming the best and Bradford heals like some genetic mutation of Adrian Peterson and RGIII, we're still not sure he's the long-term solution for the Rams at quarterback. Yes, he's looked better this year, but as we argued two weeks ago, how many millions better? Matthew Stafford better? Matt Ryan better? The jury's still out on that.
If Bradford returns healthy and doesn't get over the hump, the Rams aren't going to extend him beyond 2014. In that case, they need a quarterback waiting in the wings. If he does light up the NFL and finally lives up to his 2010 draft ranking, by drafting a quarterback the Rams have tremendous leverage.
If Bradford wants to break the bank on an extension, Kevin Demoff can point to the quarterback he has waiting behind him. If Sam plays nice and reaches a cap-friendly deal to remain the Rams' field general, Demoff now has a huge bargaining chip with which to extort draft picks from the other teams who might not be in good shape behind center.
Then there's the worst case scenario. Let's say that Bradford, after recovering from a shoulder injury in college, a season full of leg injuries that limited him in 2011, and the latest ACL injury, can't be as effective as he has been thus far. Let's say he gets gun-shy stepping into his throws. Let's say the ACL injury leaves him less mobile than he already is. What then? Another season of Kellen Clemens/David Carr/whatever stiff the cap-strapped Rams can afford? Why not bring the 73 year-old Roman Gabriel out of retirement? It would be as effective.
The Rams are in the enviable position of having two first round draft choices this year, thanks to the Redskins' generosity. With this draft teeming with quarterback prospects, it's a no-brainer that they use one of those picks to draft at least an insurance policy against Sam Bradford's recovery.
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