Why the Rams Should Get Rid of Sam Bradford
I’m already prepared for this to be an unpopular opinion. Why? Because people love quarterbacks. People defend quarterbacks. People want to give quarterbacks time. They want them to grow with their teams. They want them to succeed.
And in the case of Sam Bradford, you could argue that those feelings are only stronger in the minds of NFL fans.
Because of this, people want to give him time. Forget the fact that Bradford has played just two full seasons and never had a winning record in a single year. And don’t worry about his sub-60 competition percentage.
Sam Bradford needs time, people say.
I’ve already detailed why I believe making excuses for quarterbacks is the wrong thing to do in today’s NFL. You can’t just wait around and hope that a quarterback will be good. You have to evaluate in the moment, and move on if necessary.
For the Rams, I think it’s time to move on from Sam Bradford.
Since entering the league in 2010, Sam Bradford’s been nothing but mediocre. You can go ahead and blame that on a bad offensive line, a poor running game and bad receiving weapons. But I’m going to place the responsibility on Bradford himself, something people hate doing.
Since his rookie season, Bradford’s put together the following passing metrics:
|Passing NEP||Passing NEP per Drop Back||Pass Success Rate|
The numbers above reflect Bradford’s Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) in total and on a per drop back basis (for more on Net Expected Points, click here). In addition, I’ve added his Success Rate over each season, which measures the percentage of positive (in terms of NEP) passes.
In his four years, Bradford has yet to surpass 10.10 Net Expected Points. Not sure exactly what that means? Let’s put it in 2013 terms. This year, 22 of the 45 quarterbacks with 100 or more pass attempts accomplished this feat. Of the 22 (outside of Bradford) passers who didn’t, we had four rookies and 13 backups – the remaining five were starters.
And of those five quarterbacks who were starters (Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Christian Ponder, Eli Manning), only Ryan Tannehill has never reached Sam Bradford’s best season in the NFL from a Net Expected Points perspective (and Tannehill's only played two seasons). That’s right – even Christian Ponder has had a better season than Sam Bradford under center.
His Success Rate is no different, as the percentage of positive passes that Bradford makes is average to below average among passers with 100 or more attempts.
To put it simply, nearly every other team in the league is getting better production from the quarterback position than the Rams are with Bradford.
In fact, over the four seasons he’s been with the team (mind you, he only played two full years), the Rams’ passing offense according to our schedule-adjusted metrics have ranked 29th, 31st, 15th and 28th in the league.
While some of you may point to Bradford’s injuries as a reason for some of this failure, I’ll point to the fact that that’s evidently what you get from Bradford - the inability to stay healthy. I’ll also point to the facts above, which show that he’s been no better than Christian Ponder throughout his career. OK, maybe a little better.
The Money Situation and Rookie Quarterbacks
Sam Bradford, according to overthecap.com, is set to have a salary cap cost of $17.6 million next season. That puts the Rams at ninth in the league in terms of quarterback spending. Per the site, if the Rams were to cut Bradford, they would actually save over 10 million dollars, something they hadn’t been able to do in the past with his contract.
Rotoworld.com and Senior Football Editor Evan Silva noted today that this figure is significantly higher than any other quarterback in the NFC West as well.
This puts the Rams in an interesting situation. You could always opt to try and give Bradford a pay cut, which may be a difficult thing to do given the current quarterback market. After all – not by mistake – we saw what Jay Cutler was able to get prior to even testing it.
If Bradford would be hesitant to take a cut, the Rams best option would, quite honestly, be to cut him loose and use their second overall pick (from the Redskins in the RGIII trade) to obtain a signal-caller from the draft.
While many will see that as a ludicrous idea, I’m sure that thought may change after the results of an analysis I did last week.
The study looked at the rookie quarterbacks in the NFL since 2000 that have seen significant time during their rookie season (meeting a 200 pass attempt requirement). I looked at those quarterback’s Passing NEP scores during that season, grouping the passers in four tiers, with Tier 1 being the grouping with the best rookie quarterback Passing NEP numbers.
By no surprise, the best quarterbacks – the franchise ones – were all listed in Tier 1. Joe Flacco, Nick Foles and Matthew Stafford were outside of the top tier, but you could easily make an argument for any of those quarterbacks as to why they’re not true franchise quarterbacks. And Flacco was able to win a Super Bowl with a stretch of elite play, something not easily found in a quarterback who performs under expectation during his rookie season.
Sam Bradford was in Tier 3. He was with Carson Palmer (caveat for Palmer, who didn't play a snap his rookie year), Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Kyle Boller and Joey Harrington. And by no surprise, Sam Bradford has yet to do anything significant on the field during his NFL career.
By doing nothing with Sam Bradford’s current contract, the Rams are digging themselves a deep hole.
Cut Sam Bradford?
The Rams organization can keep holding onto hope all they want. Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead can continue to have this false perception that they “have their guy.”
The problem is, they don’t. Sam Bradford is not an NFL star, and the chances of him becoming one are incredibly slim given the start of his career. Of course it can happen, but forgoing the opportunity to get rid of some of his cap number while simultaneously selecting a quarterback in the draft would be idiotic.
It’s time for the Rams to move on. Sam Bradford is not the answer.