Forget his career with Oklahoma, the 2010 Draft, and an umpteen amount of false dawns, Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Sam Bradford looks to have finally found his home in the NFL.
That home is inside the newly built US Bank Stadium playing for Minnesota, where Bradford has enjoyed the best 16 games of his career thus far.
Bradford the Viking
With the Vikings last year, Bradford set career highs in completions, yards, touchdowns, and rating, while setting a career low in interceptions per game, and an NFL record in pass completion percentage with 71.6. Unfortunately, the Vikes missed the playoffs after winning their first five games of the season; most football fans were quick to trash Bradford’s record due to his shortcoming in passes down the field.
Perhaps the softly spoken Oklahoma native paid attention to his critics, as he wasted no time putting their jibes to bed in the first game of the 2017 season. Against an admittedly awful New Orleans Saints defense, Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, with an uncharacteristic 10.8 yards per completion.
Bradford will get the chance to test whether he’s truly a changed man next week, as the Norsemen visit the AFC North favorites the Pittsburgh Steelers. Much has been made of Pittsburgh’s defense lately; their pass rush sacked Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer seven times in his professional debut, with TJ Watt shining in his own unveiling.
However, Bradford will surely see a gaping window to truly prove doubters wrong at Heinz Field on Sunday; the Steelers’ gave up 18 points to said rookie and his team, who went 1-15 last season. With safety Mike Mitchell and linebacker Ryan Shazier having not seen many snaps since their return, a more composed quarterback may be able to exploit them: Bradford could be that quarterback.
If Minnesota could pull off a landmark win against Pittsburgh, there may be a few teams around the league who turn their eyes to Bradford, given he is playing his contract year. Normally, a team like the Vikings would be more than happy to keep Bradford in town; he’s only 29, and presumably still has growing to do, given he is in just his seventh professional season. However, the Vikes also posses the unknown commodity of Teddy Bridgewater on their roster, who is reportedly nearing 100% and hitting his stride in practice.
A few more performances like his outing against New Orleans, and one would think Bradford would remove all doubt the starting job is his long-term. However, as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry – if he were to hit the open market, what sort of money could be made, potentially from a team such as the San Francisco 49ers, or the Arizona Cardinals?
It’d be unlikely to top the deals given to Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr this past offseason, but given the quality quarterback shortage in the NFL, it may be more than you think.
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