The Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly after Week 16 of the 2015 season and spent the next eight months distancing the franchise from just about every move he made as the de facto general manager.
High-profile acquisitions DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso were all traded in March. But until the team pulled off the heist of the year and sent Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick on Saturday, the Eagles had a puzzling way of handling the future of the quarterback position in Philadelphia.
Of all Kelly’s personnel decisions, acquiring Bradford was the biggest. The Eagles sent the Rams a 2016 second-round pick and Nick Foles for the former No. 1 overall pick, but rather than allowing him to walk in free agency after firing Kelly, the team decided to give Bradford a two-year, $36 million contract to stay.
The short-term deal wasn’t too illogical for the Eagles with no other quarterback on the roster, but it seemed like a burden of a contract once the team signed Chase Daniel to a three-year, $21 million deal and traded a bevy of picks in the 2016 NFL Draft to acquire Carson Wentz, including first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round selection in 2018.
Bradford was so upset about the Eagles’ selection of Wentz that he briefly skipped out on voluntary workouts, stopped answering phone calls from the team and asked for a trade. But the team still stood by the quarterback and convinced him to come back and be the starter.
It all seemed like an exercise in patience for Philadelphia, which will eventually hand the reins to Wentz, as it didn’t make sense to part ways with Bradford until the former North Dakota State quarterback was ready. But it makes plenty of sense when a team is offering a first-round pick to take Bradford off their hands.
The Eagles are picking up the pieces of a decimated roster and starting a rebuild. Getting rid of Kelly’s most expensive acquisitions and cashing them in for picks was a strategy for the long term. Keeping Bradford seemed counterintuitive, but was a bridge for the future.
He was a stopgap worth $18 million per year with a career passer rating of 81.0. The Eagles are likely worse in 2016 because of the trade, but cashing in a short-term piece for a first-round pick is an easy call for a team that wasn’t built to compete for Super Bowl LI in the first place.
And now — even with Daniel at the helm of the offense — all the Eagles’ offseason decision-making at quarterback seems validated.