The St. Louis Rams were talking openly about their willingness to sign quarterback Sam Bradford to a contract extension early last season. Bradford tore his ACL in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers, and the contract extension talk disappeared, understandably so. Almost five months later, Bradford contract talk is bubbling up again ... kind of.
CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora ran a report Monday morning that the Rams "have no intention of extending" Bradford's current contract, the $76 million deal he signed as the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Here's the exact quote from LaCanfora's report, screencapped here because it's since changed (more on that in a minute).
Another NFL insider, Ian Rapoport, filed the midseason report LaCanfora said was no longer valid.
Somewhere during the course of the day, LaCanfora's article at CBS Sports changed. It now reads:
A source says the Rams are open to an extension for QB Sam Bradford, who is due $27M over the next two years. A longer deal would still be a surprise to many, because adding guaranteed money beyond the current deal would make it cumbersome for the team to part with Bradford.
It's the same article, with the same URL, that went up early Monday morning. The timestamp didn't change. There were no notes added to reflect the edit. It just kind of happened.
The case of the mysterious edit!!!!!
As an editor, I hate it when that happens. In fact, it's not good practice to let that happen. That wasn't a misspelled name or some other typo. It was a fundamental change to a piece of reporting that was discussed publicly on Twitter and elsewhere. Readers are owed an explanation for what changed.
So what did change? Who knows! LaCanfora and Rapoport are both well-connected NFL media mavens for their respective outlets. Unlike a certain local deejay with a cartoon mustache, they can legitimately use the term "insider" (as lame as that is) to describe their particular style of reporting.
What I think happened was what usually happens this time of year, one source told LaCanfora one thing, another one, probably one closer to the situation, probably said something else, something more vague ...
... because that's what sources say this time of year, especially the ubiquitous "team sources," who are sometimes the very same as those nefarious "league sources."
Agents, front offices, anonymous sources all tiptoe around whatever which way they're leaning at the moment. They have to, as much as it may frustrate rubbernecking fans. Things are very fluid this with cap deadlines, free agency and the draft just over the horizon.
Appropriately enough, this is happening on the same day the NFL's "official slander courier" released his regurgitated, context-free player assessments about some terrible twentysomethings. Anonymous information gets doled out strategically placed scoop at a time because someone wants it out there for a reason.
The Rams may be willing to extend Bradford right now. It would lower his substantial cap hit ($17 million), but spread the money out over an extended commitment ... less than a year after tearing his ACL and nowhere near the ceiling he had as a prospect in 2010. That could mean the Rams getting him at a much cheaper rate than they would if he returns healthy in 2014 and plays his way into an even bigger contract, which would give Bradford's camp some incentive to wait on a new deal.
It's a tough situation to read because there are plenty of moving parts and no shortage of competing motivations. It's quite possible that LaCanfora AND Rapoport are correct ... for now.