All it took was one hit, as it usually does.
On a second-and-seven from the Brown’s 12-yard line, Sam Bradford dropped back as he has many times before and threw a short ball to Jared Cook that fell incomplete. He was hit by Browns defensive end Armonty Bryant after the throw and went down on the play.
While the injury didn’t seem serious at first, it was later discovered that Bradford did re-tear his surgically repaired ACL in his left knee, which will force him to miss the entire 2014 regular season.
“We lost our quarterback,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “For Sam, it’s devastating.”
“It’s just highly unusual,” Fisher said of Bradford re-injuring his left knee. “It wasn’t a high impact. … They’re all different. And this was just kind of a hyperextension with the knee. You just had the impact from the outside and the knee was locked and something has to give. Unfortunately, the ACL gave.”
So was this Sam Bradford’s last completion as a St. Louis Ram? https://t.co/P3O2VUCuat
— Daniel Doelling (@Daniel_Doelling) August 24, 2014
Bradford was returning from a torn ACL in his left knee he suffered midway through last year. He threw for just 1,687 yards in seven games with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013 as he seemed to be on pace to record his best season as a pro.
For the meantime, veteran quarterback Shaun Hill will be the Rams’ starting quarterback. Jeff Fisher and the Rams believe that they can “rally around Shaun Hill, and that they will play good football” in the same way that Dick Vermeil had the Rams rally around Kurt Warner back in 1999. (Don’t expect deja vu.)
But after his second torn ACL in consecutive years, especially in the same knee, it’s almost safe to say that the Rams will look for a new franchise quarterback next year.
It may take Bradford even longer to rehab his left knee going into the 2015 campaign, and also consider the fact that he carries a $16.58 million cap number next season, making him too expensive to carry as an injury-prone quarterback. If the Rams do cut Bradford after the season, they’ll save over $12 million towards their cap, giving them plenty of room to bolster their roster going forward.
There is, however, also a chance that the Rams and Bradford may restructure his contract for 2015 and beyond, giving Bradford the same chance to rebound from the torn ACL he was supposed to have this year.
It’s almost a shame that someone with the talent of Bradford will have his starting career cut short.
He nearly led the Rams back to the playoffs in 2010 and 2012, the same two years that he played and started in all 16 games. Bradford threw for 3,512 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2010, winning the NFL’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and then threw for a career-high 3,702 yards with career-best 21 touchdowns in 2012.
There’s no question that Bradford has the talent to play the position, however the question with him is how he will play coming off consecutive knee surgeries, especially on the same knee. (Just imagine how good he could have been with a little more talent around him and a much cleaner bill of health.)
He’s thrown for 11,065 yards in his career so far and has a near 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (59 touchdowns to 38 interceptions) as well. If he signs somewhere else in 2015, he’ll definitely add quality depth at the quarterback position to any team.
With a solid quarterback class coming up in next year’s draft, it’s almost safe to say that Sam Bradford’s days in St. Louis are numbered.
But as far as his career in St. Louis is concerned and how efficient of a quarterback he could be in 2015 and beyond, well, we will just have to tune in then.