Games in December against NFC opponents for Eagles

No regrets about Bradford trade

Posted by Eric Fisher On October 20

Fisher column logo2With Sam Bradford returning to Lincoln Financial Field this weekend, it’s tempting to play the “what if?” game.

What if the Eagles had never traded Bradford? Would they still be 3-2? Given how well Bradford has played, would they be 4-1? 5-0?

Carson Wentz made some rookie mistakes during the latter stages of Sunday’s loss to the Redskins. Bradford might have pulled out the Redskins game. He also may have moved the Eagles down the field to get into position for a game-winning field goal against the Lions instead of throwing a bomb, as Wentz did for his only interception this season.

But this is a silly exercise. Even if Bradford’s 5-0 record was with the Eagles instead of the Vikings, the NFL’s last undefeated team, it still would have been better to trade him to the Vikings for a pair of draft choices, including a first-round pick in 2017.

Regardless of how well Bradford would have played, it would have been a waste to have Wentz spend this season carrying a clipboard. The rookie needs to play. He needs to gain experience.

Part of experience is making mistakes. Everything we’ve been told about Wentz indicates that he will learn from his mistakes.

As former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Vern Law is credited as saying, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

If the Eagles continue to struggle during this difficult portion of their schedule – the Vikings game Sunday is followed by road games at Dallas and the Giants, a home game against the Falcons and a road game at Seattle – it should be beneficial to Wentz’s development. He will learn more from playing and losing than he would from standing on the sideline wearing a baseball cap.

It’s not as if the Eagles were going to win the Super Bowl if Bradford hadn’t been traded. Not with their receivers. Not with Lane Johnson suspended for 10 games.

Everything isn’t perfect in Minnesota, either. Yes, the Vikings have a terrific defense. But, with Adrian Peterson suffering a major injury at the beginning of the season, the Vikings have no running game. Both starting offensive tackles are on injured reserve, which has caused Bradford to absorb more than his fair share of hits.

Despite the lack of a running game and the absence of both starting tackles, Bradford is completing 70.4 percent of his passes this season. He’s thrown six touchdown passes and hasn’t thrown an interception. Even if we grant that the Vikings’ outstanding defense keeps the team in the game, meaning Bradford doesn’t have to make risky throws to try to rally from big deficits, his numbers are impressive.

It’s conceivable that Bradford would have played just as well with the Eagles. Unless the Eagles were 5-0, though, it’s difficult to imagine the same energy and excitement surrounding the team as there has been with Wentz.

Once the Eagles drafted Wentz, Bradford was a place-holder. The plan was obviously for Wentz to become the starter.

Would the Eagles have waited two years for Bradford’s contract to expire before making Wentz the starter? Highly unlikely.

Would they have waited until next season to elevate Wentz to a starting role? It’s possible.

But Wentz was going to be the starter sooner, rather than later. Bradford realized that as soon as the Eagles traded up in the draft and selected Wentz with the second overall pick. That’s why he demanded to be traded.

Bradford’s trade wish was granted eight days before the season began. Despite the Vikings’ injury woes, Bradford landed in a good place. He’s with a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

And the Eagles benefited from the trade as well. They received a pair of draft choices, including a first-rounder. More importantly, they created the opportunity for Wentz to gain valuable experience.

It doesn’t matter if the Vikings finish this season with a much better record than the Eagles. Once the Eagles drafted Wentz, trading Bradford was the correct move.

Even if the Vikings win the Super Bowl, Eagles fans should not look back on the Bradford trade with regret.

There’s no need to play the “what if?” game. Carson Wentz is the franchise quarterback. Putting the future on hold so the Eagles could win a few more games this season with Sam Bradford would have been the wrong path to follow.

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