- The Philadelphia Eagles are still reaping the rewards from trading Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings in 2016.
- The trade allowed the Eagles to start Carson Wentz, whose breakout season in 2017 helped the Eagles get off to an 11-2 start.
- The Eagles also used the picks they acquired from the Vikings to draft defensive end Derek Barnett, trade for running back Jay Ajayi, and use cap space to sign Alshon Jeffery.
When the Philadelphia Eagles face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday, they’ll do so with a roster that was shaped by a trade from which they’re still reaping the benefits.
Before the 2016 season, the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick and fourth-round pick. The Eagles needed Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater injured his knee during training camp.
On Monday, during Super Bowl Media Day, Eagles GM Howie Roseman called the deal a “franchise-changing” decision for the moves it allowed the Eagles to make.
First, trading Bradford made Carson Wentz, whom the Eagles had made a giant trade for in the draft, to become the starter. Wentz started off strong in his rookie season before tailing off. But in his second season, Wentz played like an MVP candidate before tearing his ACL in Week 14. While Nick Foles has filled in admirably for Wentz, Wentz’s play helped the Eagles cruise to an 11-2 record and the top seed in the NFC.
But the Bradford trade also allowed the Eagles to make other moves that bolstered their team. The Eagles used the first-round pick they acquired from the Vikings on defensive end Derek Barnett. Barnett recorded 5 sacks this season, second on the team and also forced a fumble and returned one for a touchdown.
Additionally, the Eagles used the fourth-round pick they acquired from the Vikings to make a mid-season trade with the Miami Dolphins for running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi didn’t produce monster stats for the Eagles, but he became the lead back in a three-running-back platoon that boasts different styles of running and can be used in distinct situations.
As Andrew Krammer of The Star Tribune noted, trading Bradford also opened up cap space, which the Eagles used on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
“We had a chance to not only get the resources in terms of draft picks back, but get the money back we were going to pay Sam,” Roseman said. “That allowed us to sign Alshon. We were able to get a first and a fourth and $11 million, really when you look at it, that allowed us to improve our team around Carson.”
Jeffery’s production was steady for the Eagles, as he recorded 57 catches for 789 yards with nine touchdowns. He played a major role in the NFC Championship game, with 85 yards and two touchdowns, beating the Vikings, who, according to Krammer, tried to sign Jeffery in the offseason.
The Eagles ended up extending Jeffery for four years, $52 million during the season.
While Wentz obviously won’t play in the Super Bowl, the Eagles have three impact players taking the field, all because of the Bradford trade. With Bradford missing almost all of the 2017 season, it’s safe to say the Eagles won that deal.