Buffalo Bills: Is Sam Bradford the Answer at Quarterback?


Buffalo Bills: Is Sam Bradford the Answer at Quarterback?

For the most part, the Buffalo Bills roster looks primed to challenge for the playoffs next season. Certainly, having a defence that ranked fourth in terms of yards and points conceded in 2014 helps tremendously.

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While the running game wasn’t particularly effective last season, they still have the pieces in place to return to their 2013 form (144.2 yards per game, second-best in the NFL), especially if C.J. Spiller returns. However, the one position where the Bills do need to upgrade is quarterback.

The retirement of the serviceable Kyle Orton highlights this need even more. No matter what positive things Rex Ryan says about EJ Manual in public, the Bills have pretty much decided he is not the quarterback to lead them moving forward.

The question is, who should Ryan and coaching staff look towards to take over the most important position on the team? One possibility is Josh McCownwho visited Buffalo on Monday – but as far as I’m concerned, he isn’t the answer.

Another option is the upcoming NFL draft. However, most experts do not consider this particular class to be especially impressive.

Fortunately, there is another avenue the Bills could go down, one that is extremely intriguing. As recently reported, St Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has apparently been given permission to seek a trade:

Now, it should be noted that Rams General Manager Les Snead has since advised that “deleting (Sam Bradford) is not the answer”. However, this isn’t exactly a flat out denial of the report, which initially came from CBS Sports.

In many respects, Bradford is a polarizing figure. For each person who thinks he has the potential to achieve great things, there is someone who believes he is overrated.

Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) runs past Detroit Lions outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

For everyone who argues the 27-year old is injury prone, another person says he has just been unlucky. For those who think he’s played on average teams, others stress that he should be elevating the level of those around him…and so on.

In any event, my perspective is that, while Bradford was not worthy of being a first overall draft pick, he’s certainly capable of achieving great things in the right environment. In other words, a tough defence and a capable running game, a la the Bills.

For one thing, whatever people may think of the former Heisman Trophy winner, he doesn’t turn the ball over. With a career interception percentage of 2.2, this is a priceless commodity for any team to have.

(For some perspective, consider that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have thrown interceptions on 2.6% and 2.0% of their career passes respectively.)

Aug 23, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback and potential Buffalo Bills target Sam Bradford (8) warms up before the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It is also worth noting that prior to his injury in 2013, Bradford was having an impressive year. In seven games, he was posting career-highs for completion, touchdown and interception percentages, as well as average yards per attempt and quarterback rating.

Of course, there is the issue of what the Rams would be looking for in return for the Oklahoma City native. However, given that he only has one season remaining before he becomes a free agent, this could well be something that the Bills could take advantage of in negotiations.

In respect of his contract status, Bradford’s 2015 salary of $12.985 million may seem like a lot. One option for the Bills could be to re-negotiate a new deal with him, in order to make his contract more salary cap-friendly.

Overall, it’s clear to see there are many obstacles to overcome, along with the potential risks of bringing Bradford in. However – for what it’s worth – my belief is that Bradford could be just what the Bills need to end their playoff drought, which currently stands at 15 seasons.