So yesterday was apparently Sam Bradford day. Dubs kicked it off with his restructured contract investigation, and NFL Media's Adam Schein kept it hot with his suggestion that the Rams should just move on.
Let's just take a look at the names involved in possible contention across the league, in the 2015 NFL Draft and beyond.
Current QBs Under Contract
Perhaps you've heard of him. As it stands, there's just not enough justification for me to cut him without anybody else in tow. If the Rams are able to get someone before the March 10 opening of free agency, then this becomes a real possibility, but if they head into the draft with just Sam Bradford on the books, I'd say he'll be around for camp, new deal or not.
Rams QBs Headed To Free Agency
Austin Davis, Shaun Hill
I guess there's a case to make for keeping one of these two around, but that case wouldn't have anything to do with trying to win games in 2015. Austin Davis flirted with real success for a bit more than a month after week one saw Hill go down to an injurybenching. His three-game road stretch starting in late October effectively ended his shot at starting any time soon. Hill, now 35 years old, did little to reverse course finishing the season with a three-game losing streak of his own. Third-string QBs are always an opportunity for these kind of guys to stay employed. Their tenure with the Rams shouldn't affect that reality.
Top Free Agents From Across the NFL
Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick
Obviously, the list of "top" guys is arguable, but this is who I'd put in there. It's not pretty. That's the point.
These guys are only coming on to the market because their previous employer doesn't put much stock into bringing them back. The idea of handing any of these guys the keys for 2015 should turn all of us off. At the same time, it probably makes sense to at least look into their market price as a potential backstop especially of neither Davis nor Hill come back.
Second-Tier (And Beyond) Free Agents
Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Hasselbeck, Tavaris Jackson, Josh Johnson, Ryan Lindley, Jake Locker, Luke McCown, Colt McCoy, Matt Moore, Dan Orlovsky, Christian Ponder, Tyrod Taylor, Scott Tolzein, Joe Webb, T.J. Yates
Depth matters, but depth for depth's sake doesn't. If any of these names has any impact on the Rams' 2015 season, we're in trouble. Serious trouble.
2015 NFL Draft options
Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Garrett Grayson, Shane Carden, Bryce Petty, Sean Mannion, Blake Sims, Connor Halliday, Tyler Heinicke, Cody Fajardo, Brandon Bridge, Bryan Bennett, Jerry Lovelocke, Anthony Boone
That's all the QBs headed to the combine plus Heinicke and minus Nick Marshall who's trying to transition back to cornerback. I could break those up into tiers, but let's just lump em in together for the purpose of this exercise. The Rams need a rookie QB. Badly. One of these names has to be on the roster in three months time.
2016 College Seniors
Connor Cook, Dak Prescott, Trevone Boykin, Kevin Hogan, Cody Kessler, Nate Sudfeld, Jake Coker, Braxton Miller, Chuckie Keeton
I'm still surprised some of these guys didn't jump. One would think at least three of these guys would've fit into day two contention. Sudfeld, Miller and Keeton are all coming back off of injury; who knows how they'll look. Sudfeld is the only one of those three who doesn't rely heavily on mobility, so perhaps he's got a leg up. Decent class, though not overwhelming. And who knows which dark horse could explode on the scene. New Oregon transfer QB Vernon Adams anybody?
2016 College Juniors
Christian Hackenberg, Gunner Kiel, Cardale Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Jared Goff, Wes Lunt, Jeremy Johnson, Paxton Lynch
This is a class rife with guys ready to jump out from behind a bunch of graduating seniors and take off. Obviously the top names are there because we've seen them play. Take Jeremy Johnson. He's sat behind Nick Marshall at Auburn soaking it in, and this will be his first chance to lead one of the nation's best programs. Of course you've also got to leave room for surprises. Nobody thought at this time last year that Dak Prescott would have the year he had. Does Tyrone Swoopes make a jump in 2016? Trevor Knight? Of course the bottom line is that this is likely the next class with franchise QB options. The senior class has been drafted from for two years. Premier options among the leftovers is always limited.
2016 College RS Sophomores
J.T. Barrett, Anu Solomon, Mitch Trubisky, Luke Falk
Too many unknowns here. It's a decent redshirt sophomore group, though (understandably) I'm higher on last year's true freshmen with guys like Deshaun Watson and Brad Kaaya. Perhaps Barrett or Solomon play their way into an early NFL departure. This one feels like they might all be there going into 2017 though.
So why point out all the potential 2016 NFL Draft options? Because it impacts what you do here. Not because you base your actions now on what's available then, but you can do the opposite (which is part of why the Rams felt comfortable shipping picks in the 2015 NFL Draft away to Tampa for Mark Barron).
Uncomfortably for the Rams though, they're not in a position to look at too much of the future. Sam Bradford, the coaching staff and managerial unit could all be on the chopping block if 2015 is a horror show. The free agent market is sad. The 2016 NFL Draft is too far away.
The Rams' best hopes rest on an oft-injured Bradford and the crapshoot of this year's draft.