St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a knee injury in Saturday's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns to the same left knee in which he tore the ACL last season. After missing the Rams' final nine games of 2013, Bradford will miss the entire 2014 season due to another ACL tear.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirmed the news:
Fisher: "Unfortunately, I can confirm that we have lost Sam for the year."— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) August 24, 2014
Fisher: "For Sam personally, it's devastating."— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) August 24, 2014
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported it first Sunday:
Rams QB Sam Bradford is out for season after MRI shows he did tear left knee ACL, per sources. Rams will announce later today. @ESPNNFL— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) August 24, 2014
NFL Network's Albert Breer crunched Bradford's contract numbers and speculated on his future with the organization:
Rams QB Sam Bradford has a $16.85 million cap number for 2015, and will be due $12.985 million in cash. Team will have a decision to make.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 24, 2014
Bradford, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has never lived up to the hype of being a top overall selection.
Be it lackluster pass protection, inconsistency with regard to offensive coordinators, a dearth of playmakers or a bad Rams team in general, something has always prevented Bradford from realizing his NFL potential. Over the past couple of years, Bradford's health has been the big impediment to success.
This coming season was supposed to be the time for the Rams to take a step forward and make the playoffs, with Bradford leading the way. The signal-caller was optimistic about St. Louis' outlook back in June, via NFL.com's Mike Coppinger:
Obviously this is a big year for this organization, we really feel like we're right on the cusp of taking that next step and becoming a playoff team. And I think everyone in our building and our locker room believes that we can do that and that's why we're out here giving it everything we have right now.
Veteran Shaun Hill is the backup, and Benjamin Allbright of Yahoo Sports offered Rams fans a silver lining in light of last year's results:
Rams won 7 with Kellen Clemens... you telling me they can't exceed that with Shaun Hill?— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) August 24, 2014
With his massive six-year, $78 million rookie contract set to expire following the 2015 season, this latest injury likely means the end of Bradford's tenure as St. Louis' starting quarterback.
The Rams are in perhaps the toughest division in football in the NFC West and don't have the luxury of waiting to see whether Bradford can materialize as the face of the franchise. His career 6.29 yards per attempt and 79.3 passer rating just aren't top-tier QB material.
Hill will be 35 in January, so no matter how well he plays in 2014, he is not the long-term answer. That could result in St. Louis using a first-round pick to select a quarterback in next year's draft. The last time the Rams did that, they hoped Bradford would be their man for years to come.
Now, it's on to the next one, as St. Louis hopes to figure out the most important position to complement an otherwise talented roster.