Thursday, October 27, 2011
LuckWatch: Bradford trade considerations
By Mike Sando
Stanford's Andrew Luck has thrown for 1,888 yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season.
No one knows for sure whether Andrew Luck is the next great NFL quarterback, the next first-round bust or something in between.
For now, the Stanford quarterback projects as the franchise-saving reward for some poor NFL team careening through an otherwise lost 2011 season.
But what if the team holding the No. 1 overall choice already has a franchise quarterback?
Three Teams Starting 0-6 in Same Season
The Andrew Luck sweepstakes is heating up, with the Colts (0-7), Rams (0-6) and Dolphins (0-6) all still searching for their first win. This season is just the fourth in NFL history to have three teams lose at least their first six games of the season. Should the Rams and Dolphins lose Sunday, 2011 will be the first season in NFL history with three teams starting 0-7.
Colts, Dolphins, Rams
Buccaneers, Rams, Titans
Bills, Buccaneers, Falcons
Bears, Patriots, Saints
*No seasons with 3 teams starting 0-7
Four of the five teams with no more than one victory this season fall into that category, as the chart explains. I suspect Peyton Manning's age and injury situation would compel Indianapolis to draft a quarterback first overall if given the opportunity, but what if the St. Louis Rams held the top pick?
The Rams already invested millions in Sam Bradford. They like him very much despite what has been a rough second season for him. But if the team continues losing in a noncompetitive fashion, changes could sweep through Rams Park. New leadership could, in theory, seek a fresh start across the board -- including at quarterback.
Blasphemy, right? Hear me out.
While keeping Bradford and trading the No. 1 overall pick sounds attractive in theory, teams drafting lower could call the Rams' bluff. They could wait until draft day, then maneuver for the second overall choice, betting against the Rams taking another quarterback.
The Rams' 0-6 start has exposed holes throughout their roster. They need additional draft choices to restock a depth chart featuring too many Al Harris and Ben Leber types. Bradford would fetch quite a few picks from a team needing a quarterback.
Year of the Quarterback
ESPN has dedicated 2011 to examining one of the most crucial positions in all of sports -- the quarterback. Year of the QB »
Contract-wise, Luck would cost about half as much as Bradford cost, thanks to the new labor deal. When it comes to the salary cap, where there's a will, there's a way.
Under this scenario, the Rams could trade Bradford outside the division and even outside the conference. Cleveland would rank atop my list of destinations. Browns executive Mike Holmgren values quarterbacks, and he has additional picks from the draft-day trade with Atlanta. Browns coach Pat Shurmur was Bradford's coordinator in 2010, so Bradford could make a smooth transition to an offense he knows well.
It's a lot to digest, but time is on our side. We're still 182 days from the 2012 draft. The chart below shows the five teams with fewer than two victories.
The Colts' 62-7 defeat at New Orleans makes them the front-runner to finish with the worst record in the league. Manning turns 36 in March. He has undergone three neck surgeries in less than two years. The organization needs to line up his replacement whether or not the Colts hold the first overall choice.
The Dolphins have embraced Gloria and Emilio Estefan, tennis' Williams sisters, Marc Anthony and Fergie as minority owners. Quarterback is where the organization needs star power the most. Losing Chad Henne for the season means the Dolphins have no viable prospects at the position. It's tough finding likely victories on the schedule, which includes December road games against Buffalo and New England.
Bradford remains sidelined by a high-ankle sprain. The defense has fallen apart, which is a big surprise. The Rams have scored only 56 points all season, by far the lowest output for any team. Their so-far-brutal schedule lightens considerably following a Week 8 game against New Orleans. The Rams were the only team with no division games before Week 9. They should be able to win a few against NFC West teams, right?
The Cardinals signed Kevin Kolb to a five-year, $63 million contract. That could make it tougher for them to consider drafting a quarterback if they wind up with the No. 1 overall choice. Then again, if Kolb isn't good enough for the Cardinals to avoid the top pick, they'll need to consider every option. The Cardinals play four of their next five games on the road, so they could remain in contention for the top pick.
Christian Ponder made a positive first impression Sunday. The Vikings have scored 148 points, 28 more than any team with fewer than two victories (having no bye yet helped). Home games against Oakland and Denver offer the Vikings' best shot at winning, unless they can win at Carolina this week. Road games against Green Bay, Atlanta and Detroit remain. Home games against New Orleans and Chicago will be tough to win.