|The Rams could have had a high-draft pick last season by trading Sam Bradford but decided against it. (US Presswire)|
It could be several years before a winner is determined in March's blockbuster trade between the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins, when the Redskins gave up a king's ransom to select a presumed franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III.
Shortly afterward, Rams coach Jeff Fisher was adamant that the team made the trade in part because he believed Sam Bradford had the potential to materialize as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. This week, Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that the Rams could have received a high first-round pick if they dealt Bradford to another team during the 2012 NFL Draft.
Although Bradford hasn't exactly been given an embarrassment of riches to work with at wide receiver, his numbers since entering the league are pedestrian, at best. Last season, Bradford's 82.6 quarterback rating was the highest of his three-year career, a figure that placed him 18th among starting quarterbacks. The first overall pick in the 2010 draft ranked 25th and 30th in the category in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
But there are encouraging signs that Bradford can live up to his vast potential. Entering the final week of the regular season, Bradford led the NFL in passes released while being hit, according to Pro Football Focus. For the majority of the season, the website also ranked him in the top 10 in completion percentage on passes when facing pressure. It's a significant achievement given that Bradford played behind a patchwork line for most of the year.
Bradford has three years remaining on a six-year, $78-million contract he signed before the rookie salary cap was instituted in the new CBA. Bradford's cap hit in 2013 is $12.595 million and $17.61 million in 2014.
“I don't think it's a make-or-break season (for him) at all,” Rams general manager Les Snead told NFL AM this week. He explained to me that this will be the first time where he can actually go, "You know what? I want to improve on this, this and this, and let's get better," versus, "Here comes a new offense and now I got to memorize a whole bunch of new terminology."
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can also follow Matt Rybaltowski @mattrybaltowski.