Less than eight months after signing Sam Bradford to a one-year, $20 million deal, the Cardinals have cut ties with the quarterback.
Bradford started the first three games of the season but along with the rest of the offense, struggled to find any consistency in Mike McCoy’s scheme. He was pulled with two minutes to go in the team’s Week 3 game against the Bears and replaced by 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen, who was expected to serve as Bradford’s backup during his rookie season.
That was the last snap Bradford took for the Cardinals. In those three games, he completed just 62.5 percent of his throws for 400 yards (and a paltry 5.0 YPA average), two touchdowns, six turnovers and six sacks.
Rosen, meanwhile, has played like a rookie but has also shown glimpses of franchise-quarterback potential. He’s completing only 55.6 percent of his throws with five touchdowns and eight turnovers, but on a value-per-play basis he’s been slightly less terrible than Bradford. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement but the difference is that Rosen is six games into his NFL career while the Bradford has played on four different teams since he was the first-overall pick in 2010.
It’s still unclear why Bradford was so bad in Arizona. McCoy certainly deserves some of the blame — and he was fired after the team’s lopsided 45-10 Week 7 loss to the Broncos — but Bradford was also ineffective enough to get himself benched, and eventually released.
And that reality couldn’t be further from offseason expectations; a year ago, the Cardinals went 8-8 with Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton sharing starts, no David Johnson (he was lost in Week 1 to a wrist injury), and the fourth-rated defense. Bradford, after a strong 2016 season in Minnesota, got off to a blazing start in 2017, carving up the Saints in the season opener. But he was sidelined by a knee injury that paved the way for Case Keenum, who never relinquished the job. And while he hasn’t been on the field in a Vikings uniform in more than 12 months, Bradford is still impacting the team.
Bradford is still just 30 years old and given that demand for NFL-caliber quarterbacks continues to outstrip supply, it’s reasonable to think that he’ll have opportunities to keep playing. Buffalo and San Francisco would use Bradford immediately; both teams have been beset by injuries this season and are playing for draft position at this point. The Bills will start Nathan Peterman with rookie Josh Allen and just-off-the-couch Derek Anderson out with injuries. The 49ers lost Jimmy Garoppolo to an ACL injury and C.J. Beathard missed his last start with a wrist injury; undrafted Nick Mullens put on a show, but that may have something to do with facing a terrible Raiders team.
Thinking longer term, Bradford could serve as a one- to two-year bridge to the next franchise quarterback for teams like the Giants, Jaguars, Raiders, Dolphins and Broncos. New York has to move on from Eli Manning after the season (if not sooner), and if Oregon’s Justin Herbert doesn’t declare for the draft, the team will need to find a replacement via free agency. The Jaguars have already benched Blake Bortles once this season and despite giving him a three-year extension, he has not played well. In Oakland, Jon Gruden has already shipped Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper out of town and Derek Carr may not be far behind, especially if Gruden wants to start over with “his guy.” Miami’s Ryan Tannehill can’t stay healthy, and when he is on the field consistency has been an issue. And in Denver, the Broncos continue their search for Peyton Manning’s successor nearly three years after he retired.
Back in Arizona, Mike Glennon is the only quarterback on the roster behind Rosen.
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