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Making Sense of the Bradford situation

Teddy’s rehab is going well, but you don’t know what you have in him until he steps foot on the field again. You just don’t know until the end of the day if Teddy is going to stand in the pocket and maneuver out of pressure the same way. QB’s are always exposed to low hits so knee injuries can sometimes do funny things. But until Teddy is back and game ready, you can’t definitively say who the franchise (long-term) QB will be.

Bradford’s current contract is: $14M salary / $4M roster bonus (achieved on 3/13/17) = $18M cap hit.
*Its worth noting Bradford’s contract is a little deceiving since Philly is carrying the dead money due to the signing bonus on their cap

Teddy’s last year of his rookie deal is: $1.35M salary / $825K signing bonus proration = $2.18M cap hit

In 2017 keeping both at their current contracts works because it is only roughly $20M locked up in quarterbacks. As of today that is the 13th most spent on QB’s NFL wide, so roughly league average.

The thing you have to assume is that the Vikings are not going to let one of their QB’s walk for nothing. After giving up a 1st for Bradford, it’d be tough to choke down the Vikings simply moving on and picking up a 2019 comp pick. If Bradford plays anything like he did in 2016, he will have value next off-season. However, that value is really determined by the contract he is signed to as well. The tough part is that newly signed contracts are not easy to trade given the dead money aspect. Given that the Vikings will pickup Bridgewater’s 5th year option and outside of an extension this off-season the Vikings would be left with franchising Bradford in 2018. Looking at both contracts again given that scenario:

Bradford (franchised): $20M

Bridgewater (5th year option): $17M

Basically, the Vikings QB pay would balloon all the way up to $37M which isn’t realistic. You could move Bradford on the tag, but his value would be lower due to him being a potential 1 year rental and the fact other teams would understand they couldn’t keep both QB’s on the active roster. Even using the tag on Bradford may be a stretch considering they’re kicking the can down the road of an inevitable decision between the two QB’s.

The brings us back to the overall point that extending Bradford this off-season isn’t the worst idea, if the Vikings are ok with chocking down some dead money to get value out of their asset. Basically, the Vikings would be buying a better draft pick in a sense. They also would be hedging against Bridgewater not returning to form and the team moving on from him prior to the 2018 league year. A Bradford extension could look something like this:
3 years $60M / $35M guaranteed /  $9M signing bonus – this is just high level.
*This is on top of his contract 2017 making it more like a 4 year $78M deal.

Bradford cap hits would become:
2017: $14M Salary / $4M Roster Bonus / $3M Signing Bonus = 21M cap hit
2018: $15M Salary / $3M Signing Bonus = $18M cap hit ($6M dead in trade 18/19)
2019: $16M Salary / $3M Signing Bonus = $19M cap hit ($3M dead in trade 19)
2020: $20M Salary / $0M Signing Bonus = $20M cap hit

In essence the Vikings would be taking part of the singing bonus and putting it into Bradford deal this season (the year the Vikings still have some flexibility at QB) and then allocating the rest into 2018/19. This type of deal changes things for both parties. Once the 2018 off-season rolls around the Vikings would be trading a QB in Bradford who is under contract for 3 more season at a reasonable salary since the Vikings would have to eat the signing bonus against their cap. If the Vikings walk away from Bridgewaters option they have a QB under contract for 3 seasons at league average pay. Extending Bradford now offers long-term flexibility for the Vikings and makes some sense.

From a money perspective look at it this way.
1) Don’t extend Bradford = letting him walk for nothing which would end up being a 2019 3rd or 4th round comp pick.
2) Franchise Bradford = getting stuck with the contract or finding a late round pick 5th/6th/7th in 2018. You could argue letting him would be the preferable choice.
3) Sign the contract above = Vikings have to pay $9M out of pocket cash flow and retain $3M on the cap in 2018/19 but can move Bradford for a potential 2nd round pick in 2018.

Take it for what you will, but extending Bradford now increases his return in a trade or saves the Vikings from having to negotiate a QB contract pinned in corner.