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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Vikings’ refusal to make long-term investment in Sam Bradford now makes sense

By Judd Zulgad

There was one thing I couldn’t figure out during the Vikings’ offseason.

How come we never heard one word about a potential contract extension for Sam Bradford? The veteran quarterback would be entering the final season of his contract in 2017 and there was no guarantee if, or when, Teddy Bridgewater would ever be back from a catastrophic knee injury.

It was hard to believe that not one of the countless NFL insiders who works their sources on an hourly basis for any nugget of information didn’t have one word about Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, demanding a contract extension, or the Vikings at least opening the door to be willing to give him one.

Maybe it was the fact that Bradford had been vilified a year earlier when Condon requested his client be traded by the Eagles after Carson Wentz was taken in the first round. Perhaps the Bradford camp had learned their lesson and was willing to keep quiet rather than try to force an issue.

That seemed plausible at the time. Of course, now I also know it was likely flawed.

One would have to be awfully naïve to believe that the status of Bradford’s twice surgically repaired left knee didn’t begin to cause concern a while back at Winter Park. When exactly is impossible to say but Bradford tore the ACL in his left knee in back-to-back years (2013 and 2014) and clearly the fact it’s bothering him again can’t be considered a shock.

The Vikings were willing to take a chance on Bradford’s knee when they were desperate in the days after Bridgewater crumpled to the turf, but they weren’t going to get stuck guaranteeing a large sum of money to a guy with a potential knee condition.

The entire situation with Bradford’s knee in the past couple of weeks has been shrouded in mystery. It’s a cartilage problem, no it’s a bone bruise. It’s possibly going to keep him out six weeks, no that was coach Mike Zimmer being flippant when he gave that estimate, unless it was a slip of the tongue by Zimmer on Sunday that general manager Rick Spielman told him to correct on Monday.

The latest is that Bradford’s knee isn’t improving, that he won’t play Sunday against Tampa Bay, meaning he will miss a second consecutive game, and that he will now see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his knee.

Bradford being sent to Dr. Andrews for a second opinion would call into question what Zimmer meant last Sunday when he said Bradford would be fine. Being sent to Andrews to get your knee checked, after the team doctors already have attempted to diagnose the problem, usually means the player is anything but fine.

Often it means that player is headed for surgery.

It also can mean that player’s long-term future with his present employer is anything but certain. The Vikings have been guilty in the past of mishandling situations and creating their own bad luck, but in this case it’s remarkable how bad luck has found them.

It was just over a year ago when Bridgewater’s left knee buckled and his leg gave out on the practice field at Winter Park. Suddenly, it was an unknown if the Vikings quarterback of the future would ever play another down.

That caused Spielman to send a first-round pick to Philadelphia for Bradford in an attempt to save the season and avoid making veteran journeyman Shaun Hill the starter. It worked like a charm, until it didn’t. The Vikings started 5-0, with Hill winning the first game and Bradford the next four, before Minnesota went into the tank, losing eight of its final 11 games.

Still, the Vikings began this season with Bradford as their starter and Bridgewater on the physically-unable-to-perform list but with the luxury of having plenty of time to get right and potentially return. Case Keenum was signed to be the backup, but there was no expectation from the outside world he would have to play.

Bradford was a standout in the Vikings’ season-opening victory over New Orleans, completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards with three touchdowns and a 143.0 passer rating in the best performance of his career.

Going into that game the opinion from here had been twofold: 1) Entering his eighth season, the top-overall pick in the 2010 draft was out of excuses for why he didn’t excel. There always had been reasons why Bradford might have struggled previously but this Vikings offense was built around him. 2) If Bridgewater had to play, or that possibility was brought up, the Vikings were in trouble because this was supposed to be Bradford’s team.

Bradford’s performance against the Saints created the feeling that he was about to take advantage of the fact this was his team, and he was going to attempt to prove to everyone that all this Ted Talk was foolish.

And then, two days after that game, Bradford showed up on the injury report. Just over a week later, there are questions about when Bradford will play again, if Bridgewater can return to save the day at some point and whether Keenum is capable of winning enough games to keep the Vikings relevant?

All remain unknowns.

What isn’t as hard to figure out now is why the Vikings were hesitant to make a long-term investment in Bradford.

The post Zulgad: Vikings’ refusal to make long-term investment in Sam Bradford now makes sense appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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