Eagles take Carson Wentz at No. 2, say Sam Bradford is 'guy we want leading this charge'

ByPhil Sheridan ESPN logo
Friday, April 29, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles selected North Dakota State's Carson Wentz because they believe he can be their quarterback of the future. The present, they said, belongs to Sam Bradford.

"Sam's our quarterback," Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said Thursday night. "We've been clear about that."

The Eagles made a total of three trades to move up from No. 13 overall in the NFL draft to No. 2. After the trade to No. 2 last week, Bradford skipped voluntary workouts. The Eagles were informed that Bradford wanted to be traded and would not participate in organized team activities in May.

"Sam is the leader of this football team," coach Doug Pederson said. "He's the quarterback. I've said all along that he's the quarterback. He's the guy we want leading this charge. When he comes back, he's welcome with open arms."

However, in an interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, Roseman would not rule out trading Bradford.

"Anything is possible in the National Football League," Roseman said. "It's disingenuous to say differently. Our intention is that he's our starting quarterback and that he'll be on this football team."

Barring a trade or injury, Wentz isn't even expected to dress for a game in the regular season.

Wentz's climb to the top of the draft was as improbable as the Eagles'. He started just 23 games in his career at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. But the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz impressed teams with his physical tools and arm strength.

Pederson was the Eagles' backup quarterback in 1999, when the team took Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Pederson is looking to replicate Andy Reid's development of McNabb as a franchise quarterback. The Eagles have not won a playoff game since McNabb's departure seven years ago.

With McNabb, the Eagles won 10 playoff games from 2000 to 2008. They went to five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl. After trying to fill the quarterback job with Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Bradford, the Eagles decided a top draft choice gave them the best chance for long-term success.

When it came time to compare Wentz to another quarterback, Pederson didn't mention McNabb. He went with another quarterback he backed up during his playing career: Brett Favre.

"He's got that mentality," Pederson said. "He's got that aggressiveness that Brett had. Those are some of the skill sets that I see in Carson -- that aggression, that ability to throw the ball down the field. I love quarterbacks that are willing to take a chance, take a calculated risk down the field. Brett was that way, and I see the same thing in Carson."

Speaking to reporters in Chicago, Wentz heard about Pederson's comparison.

"Growing up, I was a Favre fan," Wentz said. "I watched him play. I loved his grittiness, his kind of warrior mentality. The biggest thing I loved about him was that he had fun. He enjoyed the game. He enjoyed every moment of it. He didn't take it for granted. That's the kind of player I am too. I'm kind of flattered by that, but I've got a long way to go before I deserve that comparison."

The Eagles started to work their way up in the draft in March. They traded cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphinsto move up from No. 13 to No. 8 in the first round of the draft. They traded running back DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans to move up to the No. 2 pick in the fourth round.

Those two picks, the No. 8 overall pick and the fourth-round pick, were part of the package the Eagles sent to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for the No. 2 pick. In making the trade, Roseman said the Eagles had to be comfortable with Wentz or Cal's Jared Goff.

The Los Angeles Rams selected Goff with the first overall pick.

The Eagles' plan worked, but not without some complications. They made the trade with Cleveland last week during a three-day voluntary minicamp. On Monday, word got out that Bradford had requested a trade and would not participate in any more voluntary offseason activities.

Pederson said he hasn't spoken with Bradford since he left the offseason program.

Bradford, 28, was due to become a free agent in March. Before he reached the market, he agreed to a two-year, $35 million contract with the Eagles.

The Eagles acquired Bradford in 2015 in a trade with the Rams. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Bradford had his best season in his rookie year. After that, changes in the offensive coaching staff and injuries affected his career. He missed half of the 2013 season after tearing his left ACL then missed all of 2014 after tearing his left ACL again.

Last year, Bradford played 14 games for the Eagles. He missed two games because of a shoulder injury and concussion. By the end of the season, the Eagles had fired coach Chip Kelly, who made the trade for Bradford. Kelly was replaced with Pederson, who had been Reid's offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Although the Eagles re-signed Bradford and addedChase Danielin free agency, Pederson has said all offseason that he would like to develop a rookie quarterback. The Eagles zeroed in on Wentz, who won an FCS national championship as a junior in the 2014 season. Last season, Wentz broke his wrist. He returned in time to play in the Bison's nationalchampionship victory.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Related Video