The Rams are an improved team, based on what they did last year. Part of that improvement can be attributed to quarterback Sam Bradford. He has taken a step up in a number of areas including his deep ball, fourth quarter performance, smart scrambling, and his low turnover rate. He still has some issues including sideline throws, holding the ball a tad too long, and throwing uncatchable balls while not giving his receivers a chance.
Still, if you look at how Bradford compares to other quarterbacks around the league he is average. He is ranked between 15 and 23 in most passing categories, including 19th in completion percentage, 20th in QB rating and 24th in yards per attempt. His salary though is not average.
Bradford is slated to make $9 million next year, $14 million the year after and $13 million in his last year while having an almost $16 million dollar cap number this year.
This contract is not Sam's fault, but most people, myself included, are looking for him to be elite and raise the limited talent around him based on his salary and draft position and judging him based on that. He has done that to a small extent, but not enough for many Ram fans and not enough to justify his current and future salary.
Can he continue to improve and become a top 10 Quarterback? Maybe but he is going to need some luck and for the team's draft picks to have a very high hit rate due to the ramifications of his large contract.
Bradford needs some help to get to that top 10 level, he could probably use the following; Guard, Tackle, Pass Catching Tight End and possibly another Wide Receiver. With his salary that may be an impossible task for the Rams through free agency that it is not for many other teams who are getting top 10 production from Quarterbacks making from 1/4th to 1/18th of the salary that Bradford makes.
The lower costs for quarterbacking assists those teams in building talent around their young stars. They can over pay in free agency with the "found" cap room. While at this point the Rams look to be out of it already for some popular names thrown around like Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, or Mike Wallace. As per Jim Thomas the Rams are looking at around $10 million in cap space and the draft picks will also come out of that pool of money. The Rams will need to hit at a very high percent of their draft picks and have to pray Brian Quick makes the jump as many other second- and third-round wide receivers have done in the past.
This is very prevalent in the NFC West as the Rams two biggest rivals have very productive quarterbacks making less than $500K per year for the next three years.
If Sam was a later round pick or had a much more reasonable contract, I think most fans would have a different view or expectation of the play of the Rams "franchise QB."
Here are some young productive/affordable quarterback salaries for comparison over the next few years;
- Robert Griffin 3-, 2013: $1,349,959, 2014: $2,309,918, 2015: $3,269,877
- Cam Newton- 2013: $2,377,318, 2014: $3,378,477
- Andrew Luck - 2013: $1,394,909, 2014: $2,399,818, 2015: $3,404,727
- Andy Dalton - 2013: $749,018 (+ $100,000 reporting bonus), 2014: $986,027 (+ $100,000 reporting bonus)
- Russell Wilson- 2013: $526,217, 2014: $662,434, 2015: $798,651
- Colin Kaepernick- 2013: $740,844, 2014: $973,766
Editor's note, from RVB: I know we've had some passionate debate lately, especially about Bradford. The community here is usually a respectful place, but there have been a few instances of some users crossing the line. I would like to remind you to keep the conversation respectful. A secondary part of that is ignoring anyone that acts foolish in the comments ... don't let a troll bait you!