Is Sam Bradford the Missing Piece for Minnesota Vikings?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystMay 5, 2014

St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford (8) prepares to pass against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. The Panthers won 30-15. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Two years ago, the Minnesota Vikings won 10 games and made a surprising playoff run.

However, last year the Vikings backslid to 5-10-1, due in large part to a quarterback situation that drove past disastrous and careened through catastrophic before slamming full speed into a burning dumpster.

Minnesota's uncertainty under center has caused the team to be linked to many of the top young quarterbacks in this year's draft, but there's some late buzz that the Vikings may be considering going another direction entirely.

The wrong one.

As Bryan Rose of Sports Illustrated reported, during an appearance on CBS Sports 920′s The Morning After show, Jason La Canfora indicated that the Vikings and St. Louis Rams may have talked about a deal for St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford:

There are people in the league who believe there have been discussions with the Vikings. Rams people have denied any conversations whatsoever. The bottom line is if they don’t take a quarterback, they’re not trading Sam Bradford. There’s so much uncertainty in this draft that it’d be difficult to put the horse before the cart...all these things are tied together. The Rams are going to talk to a lot of teams between now and whenever their first pick is, continue to gauge the market.

Now, at this point it's worth pointing out that, as La Canfora said, the Rams have resolutely denied shopping Bradford, and Ian Rapoport of thinks this all just a predraft smokescreen:

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the Rams "remain committed to Bradford," even as talk continues to swirl about the Rams' interest in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:

Fans of the Vikings should hope that Florio and Rapoport are on the money here, because Sam Bradford would create as many problems for the Vikings as he would solve.

There's no denying that the Vikings need a quarterback. Minnesota ranked 23rd in the NFL last year in passing offense. From Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel to the one-game apocalypse that was the Josh Freeman experiment in Minnesota, the Vikings' quarterbacks were mediocre at best and unfathomably horrible at worst in 2013.

Still, it's hard to see how exactly Bradford is some huge step in the right direction.

Sam Bradford Career Stats
YearGComp. Pct.YardsYds/GameTDINTRating
Per Pro Football Reference

Yes, Bradford set career highs in passer rating and completion percentage in 2013, with an impressive plus-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Still, even in that "career year," Bradford barely completed 60 percent of his passes, ranking a mediocre 20th among NFL quarterbacks according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

That ranking was also a career high.

There's also the matter of the ACL tear that ended Bradford's season early last year. His rehab is progressing well, according to what head coach Jeff Fisher told Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but that doesn't change the fact that serious injuries have cost Bradford 15 games over the past three seasons.

Simply put, the only thing about the first overall pick in the 2010 that's said "first overall pick" in Bradford's four NFL seasons is his salary.

Which according to Rose counts for over $17 million against the Rams' cap in 2014. His cap number in 2015 is similarly eye-popping.

Bradford's the last of the "old CBA" quarterbacks, with the bloated contract to match. Even if a restructure was part of a potential trade, Bradford is still going to be significantly more expensive than a rookie.

Never mind the draft pick(s) required to make the deal, valuable capital for a team like the Vikings with holes on both sides of the ball.

No one is going to deny that the Vikings need a quarterback. Badly.

But a somewhat injury-prone young passer with so-so (at best) career production, a fat contract and an 18-30-1 record as a starter in the NFL?

Pass, unless the puzzle general manager Rick Spielman is trying to finish says "you're fired!" on it.