ARIZONA CARDINALS

CBS Sports’ La Canfora: Sam Bradford a contingency plan for Cardinals

Jan 25, 2018, 9:59 AM | Updated: 3:52 pm
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)...
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

By sheer odds, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Arizona Cardinals end up with a former Minnesota Viking should they fill their quarterback room with a free agent.

Outgoing Vikings offensive coordinator and new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur built up the stock of three different quarterbacks over the last three years: Teddy Bridgewater in 2015, Sam Bradford last year and Case Keenum this year.

All three become free agents this offseason, but while injuries to Bridgewater and Bradford the past two years opened up opportunities for another quarterback to thrive, it puts red flags over their own stock. Add in the curious decision that lies ahead of the Vikings over which QB(s) they retain, and it’s a mystery how exactly Minnesota impacts the quarterback market.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora is trying to see the future through his crystal ball anyway.

He predicts that Minnesota tags Keenum and brings back Bridgewater, allowing Bradford to walk to the Cardinals.

Yes, the injuries are a constant and will likely result in a deal with guaranteed money only in 2018 and significant incentives for games played and production. The Cardinals aren’t going to have a top-three QB fall to them in the draft and they are nowhere at that position right now, having stuck with Carson Palmer too long and failed to draft his replacement. Bradford could be a great contingency for them and someone who could help rookie head coach Steve Wilks navigate through a season or two (again, should he avoid injury).

This makes sense, especially if La Canfora doesn’t think more well-regarded quarterbacks on the free agent or trade markets will land in the desert.

He sees Kirk Cousins remaining with the Washington Redskins on a transition tag and the Kansas City Chiefs trading Alex Smith to the Browns. Other quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill and Blake Bortles are likely to stay put, La Canfora adds.

Indeed, Arizona will likely turn to a veteran quarterback via trade or free agency considering any quarterback it lands in the draft will need extensive grooming.

Bradford has experience. His injury history could actually help lower his price tag and allow the Cardinals to protect their future cap situation by not handing him a long-term deal.

Before an arthroscopic knee surgery in November cut his season after two games played, Bradford put together his best NFL season.

In 2016, he threw for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions while completing 71.6 percent of his passes. That was good enough for a quarterback rating of 99.3, more than eight points better than his previous best year in 2013 with the St. Louis Rams.

Would his knee problems be a scary thing behind a Cardinals offensive line that itself struggled with injuries and lack of production last season? Absolutely.

But if he were to get Arizona through at least half a season healthy, he’d buy enough time for the team to at least prepare a draft pick without throwing him into the flames in Week 1.

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