Burwell: Rams, Bradford's agents are wasting time
BY BRYAN BURWELL
Let's get this straight right off the top: It just doesn't matter who's dragging their feet, which side's being the most difficult or who's trying to squeeze the last drop of economic blood out of the other guy in the Sam Bradford contact talks.
However you look at the economic forensics that will eventually lead to the richest rookie deal in NFL history, the only thing that truly matters is that time is of the essence.
It's just so obvious that Bradford shouldn't still be cloistered away in some hotel room waiting for his negotiators and the Rams to stop haggling and come to terms so that he can make a quick drive out to Rams Park. The young quarterback with the $50 million arm ought to already be out on the practice fields at Rams Park this morning with the other rookies and selected veterans. And every minute of practice and classroom time that he misses puts him a just little bit further away from the only goal that ought to matter for everyone concerned.
In theory, I think everyone understands that the No. 1 overall pick in the draft needs to be at training camp as quickly as possible so he can begin the hard work required to assume his role as the Rams' franchise quarterback.
Yet here we are with two practices already blown and another one sure to be missed this morning, and now the emphasis shifts away from Wednesday afternoon's 3 p.m. deadline for rookies to report to camp to Saturday afternoon's first full-squad practice as the new deadline. There are so many countless reasons it's in the best interests of both Bradford and the Rams to have their face of the franchise in camp and on the field by Saturday afternoon. But as of Thursday night, negotiations continued to grind away as if no one appreciated that sense of urgency.
Given all that's at stake for the Rams organization and the talented young face of the franchise, it's rather baffling why a deal hasn't already been consummated. And the fact that it's still not done makes me wonder why everyone involved — and that means the Rams management, Bradford's agents and the rather intelligent rookie QB himself — can't understand the concept of penny wise, pound foolish.
Honestly now, what can be more important than making sure that Bradford is there when all the veterans arrive? What can be more significant than making sure that the first baby steps Sam The Young Man takes in his NFL career are the self-assured ones of walking into camp on time with all the veterans to let them know that he means business?
If he's going to take over the all-important leadership role on this green-but-growing team, those veterans need to see him there on time going at full speed, not showing up a few days late and playing the worst game a high-profile rookie QB can possibly play — the gawdawful game called "catch up."
While missing the first two practices with the rookies isn't the worst thing that can happen to Bradford, he's still missed out on valuable practice time that could only help prepare him for the great opportunity that he's been dreaming about for his entire athletic life. This is the reality of life in the NFL: The team moves on without you. Wednesday and Thursday were sort of like up-tempo refresher course for the rookies, allowing them to re-charge their memories on all the vast information they learned in minicamps and OTAs. When the veterans get here, the clock accelerates. Installation of the playbook begins at a rapid pace, and so does the game-planning for the regular-season opener. If you're not here, that's time and experience you will have to work overtime to make up.
Bradford's a very intelligent young man, and he has no doubt immersed himself in that thick playbook all summer. He surely has a wonderful command of the complicated playbook already, but there's no way he has absorbed the playbook to the point where the pro game is fluid, slow and easy and he's perfectly fluent in the complex language of the West Coast offense.
But he can't compete with veteran AJ Feeley for the starter's job if he's not here.
And I know he wants to be here.
So why does it feel like no one involved in the haggling feels a particular sense of that necessity? Bradford's negotiators have apparently been preoccupied with completing Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates' new deal and sinking themselves into negotiations for their other high-profile first-round draft picks before they're fully committed to digging in on Bradford's contract talks. And inexplicably, the Rams seem to have allowed this maddening dawdling to go on without emphasizing that there can be no greater priority than getting the NO. 1 PICK IN THE ENTIRE NFL DRAFT locked up to a record deal in short order.
Hello??? Is anyone paying attention?
There's a lot riding on this young man, and it's wildly irresponsible and downright foolish if everyone involved can't find a way to get him walking through the gates of Rams Park today.
Re: Burwell: Rams, Bradford's agents are wasting time
That is exactly what I was aftaid of, gready PIMPs