Eagles fans saw Bradford for a season, albeit in the funhouse mirror of Kelly World, and the team went 7-7 in his starts. Whatever he was in the odd circumstances he found himself, Bradford was not a magic button for success. There aren't any, of course, but people like to look for them, anyway.
Maybe Colin Kaepernick in a new setting would be that guy. Maybe Robert Griffin III. Maybe a rookie in the draft who is 7-foot-3 and threw for 4,000 yards last season at Sacramento Dental College. There must be a magic button out there. Sorry, and if you think so, remember that Chip Kelly was supposed to be a magic button, too, a big-brain innovator who would take the league by storm. Well, there turned out to be a pretty big storm, and here we are sorting through the rubble.
Sometimes, boring is underrated. It would have been a lot better, for instance, as the wheels were beginning to come off for Andy Reid in 2011, to take a safe, boring lineman near the end of the first round rather than outsmart the world with Danny Watkins. The Eagles saw things no one else did, and, as it turned out, there was a reason no one else saw them.
Sticking with Bradford was, as someone brilliantly wrote last week, an inevitable marriage of convenience. The quarterback didn't have any better potential employers across the landscape of the NFL, and the Eagles, after three years of being over-caffeinated, have unplugged the coffee pot and begun gulping good old, plain water. That's what Sam is. Glug, glug, and it goes down pretty easy.
One could quibble that a $36 million contract, with a $26 million guarantee, is stiff for a player without many options, but the first rule of roster management is making sure the quarterback is happy. Howie Roseman, unlike Kelly, knows and respects the rules of how the league works. Plus, the Eagles limited the length of their commitment to Bradford, who hasn't played 16 games since 2012.
It is a deal that makes incredible sense, even if Bradford isn't all that exciting right now. If he wins, he'll be a lot more exciting, and there's no reason he can't when surrounded by a saner approach to the roster.
One more thing to consider: If you don't like boring, you better pick another team to follow. Signing Bradford is the cornerstone move of that philosophy.
Roseman has already taken the team back to the future with a series of old-school signings of burgeoning core players such as Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, and Vinny Curry. Look for the Eagles to get Fletcher Cox done as well.
When it comes to the draft, you can expect Roseman's personnel department to hit it straight down the fairway, preferring 200 yards in the short grass to 300 yards in the trees. It will be a major surprise if that 13th pick in the first round isn't used on a sure-thing offensive lineman.
As for the team under head coach Doug Pederson, innovation won't exactly be job one. Unless he's been kidding, the Eagles will run a relatively bland version of the West Coast offense, with DeMarco Murray getting a head start before taking the ball into the line of scrimmage and with Bradford having the option to go through his passing progressions just like a real quarterback. Factor in an aggressive 4-3 defense under Jim Schwartz that echoes the days of Jim Johnson, and it really is Andy Reid, Chapter Two, with Bradford playing the role of Donovan McNabb, minus the moonwalking and barfing.
Boring can be good, and the new/old front office and new coaching staff is also betting that boring can eventually be great. We'll see. That has yet to be proven, but it is clearly boring's turn.
The team tried wild and exciting for three years, and the only thing that did was give everyone a headache. So, unbuckle your seat belts and stop holding onto your hats. The ride gets a little smoother for a while now.