Sam Bradford's future in St. Louis and future potential as a franchise quarterback in the NFL has invoked heated debate in Internet chat rooms and forums, via articles nationwide, within the walls of the Edward Jones Dome, and even between Monday Night Football announcers Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski during the recent St. Louis game at Seattle.
However, let's slow down for a moment.
With Bradford's huge rookie contract that guarantees him over 50 million in pay—and potentially much more—Sam is almost untradeable, if the Rams were to indeed consider that option.
The new rookie wage scale is much more team friendly, particularly at the top of the draft, and there are some good options this year at the position, including Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, among others.
With options like that available at a greatly reduced cost, trading Bradford would be very unlikely.
In order to trade for Sam, another team would not only have to give up a great deal in regard to compensation to St. Louis, but would also add a big burden to their cap for years to come.
In addition, St. Louis itself would incur a major cap hit for multiple years if they dealt Bradford.
Even if that were not the case, it is nothing more than mere speculation at this point that St. Louis would even consider the option.
In a nutshell, however, when looking at the above and more, Sam Bradford will be the Rams' starting quarterback in St. Louis when the season opens in 2012.
With that established, how will the 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, who many proclaimed as the league's next elite quarterback, bounce back from an underwhelming sophomore season?
For starters, St. Louis needs to upgrade the offensive line.
Right tackle Jason Smith struggled mightily in his third season before yet another concussion knocked him out for the season.
He is a question mark to return to St. Louis, not only because of his play and health, but because he is jeopardizing the health and limiting the play of Bradford.
If Smith does return, the Rams may look to give him a try at guard.
His big and powerful body may be a better fit in a smaller space, where his struggles at moving quickly enough to keep up with speedy pass rushers off the edge would theoretically be reduced.
St. Louis will likely look to upgrade at any spot that doesn't include the names of Rodger Saffold or right guard Harvey Dahl.
That leaves the potential for new blood at a guard spot, center and right tackle, depending again on the future of Jason Smith.
Secondly, the Rams must upgrade at wide receiver.
They immediately will get a boost with the return of Danny Amendola, Bradford's slot receiver and security blanket, who hauled in an impressive 85 catches in 2010.
If the Rams bring back Brandon Lloyd, he and Bradford should develop a fine chemistry in the offseason.
Even if St. Louis retains Lloyd, the Rams need an upgrade at the opposite starting receiver spot.
Danario Alexander has played well in spots, but once again has battled injuries and cannot realistically be relied upon to stay on the field.
Greg Salas should be solid as perhaps a fourth receiver and looks like a keeper.
Austin Pettis hasn't shown anything to be too excited about, but could be back as a depth receiver. The same goes for Brandon Gibson.
No matter how it breaks down, the Rams absolutely must add an elite receiver to the mix.
In the draft, Justin Blackmon is a name that has been mentioned and is a player who offers the potential to fill the bill
In free agency, the receiver group is expected to be deep. Names expected to hit free agency include Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Johnson, Robert Meacham, Pierre Garcon and Mario Manningham, among others.
Outside of upgrading the line and the receiving corps, having an offensive coordinator in place for a second consecutive year would likely help.
Bradford will have two offenses under his belt in as many seasons in the league at the conclusion of the season.
On the other hand, he has struggled this year under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
The coaching situation appears to be in flux.
Head coach Steve Spagnuolo's future in St. Louis is tenuous at best.
McDaniels could be a candidate for head coach in other cities, too. He may also be in play here.
So much is unclear.
One would have to think that some continuity would be good for Bradford, even though this year has been a struggle in this new offense. Weighing it out, retaining McDaniels at OC makes sense in regard to giving the young Bradford a chance at some stability and an opportunity to get grounded in a system for the first time in his career.
Bringing back McDaniels would give he and Bradford a full offseason to iron out the kinks.
Finally, Bradford himself needs to improve.
He has done a poor job of progressing through his reads, often locking onto a receiver for far too long.
He is having trouble locating open receivers (although those are admittedly not always available to be found) and finding his check-down options.
In the end, Bradford will benefit from having a full offseason and (hopefully) an upgraded line and receiving corps.
Look for Bradford to build off of his rookie year, when he played well enough to earn the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2010.
His sophomore season was an aberration. His 2012 season will be a breakout year, as Bradford will turn heads in St. Louis and nationally throughout the NFL.