So Sam Bradford made his triumphant return last night on a National Stage versus the Chicago Bears for Monday Night Football.
He probably wishes he hadn’t.
There was a theory gaining traction over the past few weeks that one factor playing into the idea of Sam Bradford missing three straight weeks was coming from the quarterback’s camp. The idea was surrounding a thought that his agent, his family, his conscience started speaking up to protect his contract value. Prior to last night, the last time we saw Sam Bradford on the field he was throwing for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns versus the New Orleans Saints. It was quite literally, the best game of Sam’s career. But he injured his knee sometime during the second half. So the argument then became that he may be protecting himself to protect his value come contract negotiations because playing at anything less than 100% would tarnish what could be a big, final contract in his already lucrative NFL career.
But then he was cleared, somehow, last night and it didn’t go well.
In the first half Bradford struggled his way to 5 for 11 passing for 36 yards, a passer rating of 53.6 and was pulled just before the half never to return.
It was a weird juxtaposition assuming that he will miss at least this coming Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers and it forces us to ask the question, what does the future hold for Sam Bradford in Minnesota?
Let’s start with the short-term. There’s is no way that Bradford will even be jostled around as an option this week against Green Bay. I’ll be completely shocked if he even pops up as a limited participant in practice this week. After what was displayed on national television last night there’s no competitive advantage to be had in an attempt to trick the Packers into preparing for Bradford to start. It will be Case Keenum and all that he does or doesn’t bring to the table that Mike McCarthy prepares his team to slow down.
Now let’s extend our scope a little wider looking ahead at what’s coming down the chute over the next couple of week’s. While the opponents of the Packers, Ravens and Browns (in London) don’t send chills down the spine it’s what’s coming off the bench, or the P.U.P. if you will, that might factor into this whole Sam Bradford conundrum.
After this weekend’s game against the Packers, Teddy Bridgewater will be allowed to rejoin the team as he will be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list. According to CBS’s Jason LaCanfora, Teddy is physically ready to do just that.
Here’s the exact report:
Vikings former first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a
gruesome knee injury prior to the start of the 2016 season, continues to make major strides in his recovery from surgery and remains on track to begin practicing next week, league sources said. Bridgewater continues to do more work on his own and is slated to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list after Week 6, when he is first eligible to do so, and begin practicing with the Vikings, sources said.
Bridgewater will obviously need significant practice time to round into shape given the extent of his injury and the length of his layoff, but he is in great spirits and has been enthused by the progress he has made the past few months. Bridgewater has received clearance from doctors each step of the way and there have been no recent setbacks in his recovery, sources said, and every reason to anticipate him being activated off the PUP list following the Vikings’ Week 6 game. He is expected to be reviewed by the doctors once more prior to officially being activated off the PUP list.
After being activated from the P.U.P. list, the Vikings have three weeks to add Teddy to the active roster or designate him inactive for the rest of the season. As noted in the LaCanfora report above, Teddy has been cleared at every level to date and the prognosis for some semblance of a return is optimistic. So if Teddy is activated, if he shows that he’s able to play, that has to devalue Bradford’s presence the rest of the way.
Back up a bit further and let’s look at the long-term impact this injury could have on the remainder of Sam Bradford’s career.
Last night we saw a quarterback who has always been rumored to be “fragile” look frail. We saw a guy who has had the snot beaten out of him throughout his career look gun shy. We saw him look uncomfortable, out of sorts and flat out scared. He didn’t plant his injured leg, he overthrew receivers, he was timid and waited too long in the pocket. It got to a point where Robert Griffin III tweeted out in a plea for Sam to protect himself and grab some bench.
Gotta get Bradford out for his own safety trust me I know the feeling
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 10, 2017
If I’m the Vikings, I’d have a tough time investing a big chunk of change into a guy with a self-inflicted, potentially chronic knee injury especially when he looked like he did last night. Ben Leber, sideline reporter for the Vikings Radio Network put it best in the tweet below.
— Ben Leber (@nacholeber) October 10, 2017
It’s a serious question and one that the Vikings have been mulling over for the better part of a year now. Unfortunately their decision didn’t get any easier after Week 5.