ST. LOUIS — The Rams have found a new quarterback, and he won’t be challenging Sam Bradford for a starting spot.
St. Louis officially announced Tuesday evening that Bradford will go to Philadelphia in exchange for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, with the two teams exchanging draft picks. The trade comes less than a month after general manager Les Snead responded to reports of Bradford seeking a trade at the NFL Scouting Combine by saying "deleting him is not an option."
Bradford missed all of last season and the final nine games of 2013 due to two different ACL tears, but his rehab reportedly has been going well. The Rams were scheduled to pay the 2010 No. 1 draft pick nearly $13 million in 2015, the final year of a six-year, $78 million contract.
"Sam was a leader on our team in the locker room and on the field," head coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement. "He was a great teammate who was dealt some adversity but handled it all with grace and dignity.
"He represented himself as well as the organization in a first-class manner. I wish him nothing but the best throughout his career."
Meanwhile, Foles made a base salary of just $615,000 in 2014 and is owed a base salary of $1.34 million in 2015, the final year of a four-year contract.
Foles, Philadelphia’s 2012 third-round draft pick, threw for 2,163 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in eight starts before a broken collarbone ended his 2014 season. He won six games, including a 34-28 victory over St. Louis, while leading a fast-paced offense that averaged nearly 30 points and 300 passing yards per game. After he went 1-5 in six starts as a rookie following an injury to Mike Vick, Foles won 14 of 18 games as a starter under Chip Kelly and took the Eagles to the playoffs in 2013.
Bradford won just 18 of 49 starts for St. Louis and threw at least 13 interceptions in his only two full seasons, though he won the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. He set career highs with 21 touchdowns and 231 passing yards per game while leading the Rams to a 7-8-1 record in 2012, his first year under Fisher and the franchise’s best finish since 2006.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise considering Fisher said in mid-February the Rams would bring in a quarterback who would not be "challenging Sam; it’s to have options." Two weeks later, newly-hired quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke raved about the chance to work with Bradford, who had a role in the interview process of Weinke and new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti.
"Throughout his five years with the Rams, Sam has been a consummate professional," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement. "We thank Sam for his dedication to our team and community and wish him and his family the best moving forward."
Shortly after reports of the trade surfaced, the news came that another St. Louis quarterback, Shaun Hill, was also departing. Hill has agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Vikings, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 35-year-old veteran, who suffered an injury in the season opener, won four of his first five starts after returning before throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions in three straight losses to end the year.
Rams QB upheaval continues. Shaun Hill is signing with Minnesota.
In yet another twist at quarterback for the Rams, the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain reported Case Keenum signed a contract with the Texans so they could immediately trade him to St. Louis for a seventh-round pick. Keenum joined the Rams via waivers just before their season opener for insurance after Bradford’s preseason injury, but St. Louis never even let Keenum enter a game before cutting him at the end of October.
Case Keenum signed tender today and is being traded back to Rams for 7th round pick.