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Thursday, October 27, 2011
LuckWatch: Bradford trade considerations

By Mike Sando

Andrew Luck
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?

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.

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.