The Cardinals filled a hole at quarterback … if Bradford stays healthy.
The Arizona Cardinals will take a chance in free agency, and intend to bring in quarterback Sam Bradford, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But can Bradford really be the long-term answer at quarterback the team needs? Or even a short-term one?
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Bradford didn’t come cheap and will make $20 million for the 2018 season with an option for another $20 million in 2019.
Bradford hit free agency along with former teammates Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. The Vikings decided they wanted to go in a different direction at the quarterback position, and by that, I mean that Minnesota wanted in on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes action.
Bradford was probably the longest shot among those three quarterbacks to be retained. He got last season off to a strong start in Week 1, but a knee injury kept him off the field for all but two games. Here’s what’s on the horizon for Bradford and the Cardinals:
What does Bradford bring to the Cardinals?
It depends on which Sam Bradford shows up and how healthy he is.
Bradford has been solid for the Vikings when he’s been healthy enough to play. Minnesota brought him in via trade with the Eagles as a stopgap when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a gruesome knee injury before the 2016 season. Bradford completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five picks. He completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks against the Saints in Week 1 before that knee injury derailed his season.
He showed similar promise with the Rams early in his career, but injuries slowed him down. If Bradford bounces back from the degenerative knee condition he dealt with last season, he has a shot to be a viable starter again.
Are there any concerns about Bradford?
It comes down to what Mike Zimmer said about Bradford at the combine.
“The question with Sam is two years ago he plays in 15 games, starts and plays well,” Zimmer said. “This year, he plays in one game and gets hurt, so you go back and look at his track record.”
He’s had his ACL repaired in the same knee twice. That’s the knee that sidelined Bradford for most of last season. There was no structural damage, but Bradford did have to have surgery to clean up the knee. In theory, this is a cost-effective signing that gives the Cardinals a quality veteran starter. But Bradford’s health is the biggest question.
What does this mean for the Vikings?
Minnesota is reportedly moving forward with Kirk Cousins as the team’s quarterback. It’ll be pricy, but the Vikings haven’t shied away from taking big swings at the position.
Bradford was one of those swings when he was acquired in a huge trade prior to the 2016 season. But giving Cousins a fully guaranteed deal worth $28 million per year is a new level of risk, and could haunt the team if it’s a whiff.
But ultimately, losing Bradford is no sweat off the Vikings’ back after the team did just fine without him in 2017.
Did the Cardinals make a good choice with Bradford?
It just depends on if he stays healthy. If he does, he should be a steady presence behind center. If he can’t, this could be disastrous.
Either way, expect the Cardinals to aggressively hunt for their quarterback of the future. That’s not Bradford, no matter how well he recovers from his recent injury.