Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the trade that sent the quarterback from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Minnesota Vikings.
On September 2 of last year, quarterback Sam Bradford was preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles’ first game of the regular season against the Cleveland Browns. But one day later, Bradford found out that he had been traded by the Eagles and would instead be spending the 2016 NFL season as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings were in dire need of a quarterback after Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the year due to a devastating knee injury. Minnesota’s only real option for under center before acquiring Bradford was a 36-year-old career backup in Shaun Hill.
Rumors began to swirl of who the Vikings could possibly bring in to be their starter following Bridgewater’s injury. Everyone from Michael Vick to Mark Sanchez to Colin Kaepernick were among the names that were being thrown around as players Minnesota was possibly interested in acquiring.
But in a bit of a surprise move, the Vikings were able to agree on a deal with Philadelphia that sent Bradford to Minnesota in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick.
Reactions from the Vikings’ fan base definitely ranged across a broad spectrum. Some felt that Minnesota’s best legitimate option was to land Bradford, while others felt that a first-round draft selection was too steep of a price to give up for a quarterback who had never won more than seven games in a single season (including myself).
Two weeks after he joined the Vikings, Bradford was pegged as the starter for their Week 2 matchup against the Green Bay Packers. The quarterback played well, completing 70 percent of his passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns to help Minnesota defeat the rival Packers 17-14.
He would go on to lead the Vikings to wins in their next three games and help them get off to one of their best single-season starts in the history of the franchise with a 5-0 record. In Bradford’s first four starts with Minnesota, he completed 70.4 percent of his throws for 990 yards, six touchdowns, and he did not toss a single interception.
Not bad for a guy who had only been given 15 days to learn the team’s playbook before his first start against Green Bay in Week 2.
But following the Vikings’ bye in Week 6, the team and their quarterback began to spiral downward. Minnesota lost their first two games after their week off and Bradford did not play anything like he did during his first four starts with the Vikings.
From Week 6 to Week 9, the quarterback was sacked 16 times, averaged only 258 passing yards per game, threw five touchdowns, and tossed his first two interceptions of the year as well. Unsurprisingly, Minnesota was on the losing end of the scoreboard in all four of these games.
The Vikings went on to lose four of their final six games of the season and actually ended up missing the playoffs despite beginning the year with a 5-0 record.
Bradford ended his first season with Minnesota having completed 71.6 percent of his passes (a new NFL record) for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Given the circumstances Bradford was presented with once he landed with the Vikings, the quarterback performed pretty well.
Obviously, there are things that he could have done better (for one, his 9.8 yards per completion in 2016 ranked 29th in the NFL). But even some of the best signal callers of today would have struggled if placed in a similar situation to what Bradford thrown into last season.
So now that a year has passed, did Minnesota make the correct decision in trading for Bradford last season?
Well first, instead of thinking of it in plain black and white terms, think of it like this. Based on the amount of decently skilled quarterbacks the Vikings had to choose from, did they make the best move they possibly could that could still keep them competitive until Bridgewater returns and not damage the future of their franchise at the same time?
Yes is the only real answer to this question.
Minnesota now at least has a capable quarterback in Bradford for another year and they made up for their lack of a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting a stud running back in Florida State’s Dalvin Cook during the second round.
The Vikings trade for Bradford was never supposed to be a solution to improve the franchise. It was one that was made with the intentions of being a temporary fix and in that sense, it was indeed worth it.