Coming to the end of the 2017 season there were an unprecedented number of teams needing quarterbacks and a load of veteran quarterbacks hitting the free agent market. After the first week, most have found a home. Just like Sam Bradford who found a new home in Arizona and already, many a media outlet are offering comment on just how many times Bradford will play before getting injured. Again.
The truly amazing thing is amount that Sam Bradford has earned over an injury ridden career. After his latest $20m contract with Arizona his career earnings are estimated to be $124m. There’s no doubt that the salary agreement for rookies that was agreed after Bradford joined the NFL has helped to reduce the amount that No.1 picked QBs can earn. But this is the second time that Bradford has secured such a lucrative contract.
And yet he’s so often injured! For a team with not a whole lot of cap space and quite a few holes to fill it seems like an awfully big risk for the Cardinals to take.
Since he came in to the league Bradford in 2010 he has suffered from a series of season threatening and career threatening injuries:
- October 2011: High ankle sprain – missed two games
- November 2011: reinjured the same ankle – missed the next game
- December 2011: same ankle, same injury – sat out the final three games
- October 2013: Knee ACL Tear – missed the rest of the season
- August 2014: Knee ACL Tear – missed the whole of the 2014 season
- November 2015: Shoulder joint separation – missed two games
- November 2015: Concussion – out for two weeks
- September 2017: Knee Bruise – out for three weeks
- October 2017: Knee Bruise – out for the rest of the season
In total, Bradford has started 80 games and thrown for 19,049 yards and 101 touchdowns. That’s $1.55m per game and $1.2m per touchdown pass. To put that into comparison, Peyton Manning is the highest earning QB of the modern game ($249m) which cost $936k per game and $461k per touchdown pass. But maybe that’s not fair as not every player can’t be a hall of famer, so I looked at the number one draft pick from 2011, the year after Bradford joined the Rams, none other than Cam Newton.
Newton was the first No.1 picked QB who was subjected to the then new rookie wage scale following the collective bargaining agreement and it’s safe to say it’s had an effect! Newton earned $22m from his first contract. Not bad, but that’s no where near the $65m that Bradford took home from this rookie contract. In total, Newton has thus far earnt $89m. He’s started 109 games ($816k per game) and thrown for 158 TDs ($563k per TD).
None of this is probably making pleasant reading for potential Arizona fans is it? So, why oh why have Arizona invested so much in him? I, personally, think that Bradford is going to be what many are referring to as a ‘bridge quarterback’ and they’ll look to take a quarterback in the draft that can sit behind Bradford for a year or two.
But the other thing is that, when he’s fit, he is a good quarterback. His completion rate is strong at 62.5% (Manning finished with 65.3% and Newton is currently on 58.5%) and interception rate is only 2% (Manning and Newton both at 2.7%) and he’s done it with receivers who have never been true No.1s and nor has he ever had a true start tight end. And let’s not forget that in the one full game he did play at the start of the 2017 season, he had a career game and tore the Saints apart. I can only presume that it’s this quality that Arizona have focussed on.
One other note, the next quarterback taken in the 2010 draft? Tim Tebow…….