No need to rush Sam Bradford extension

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Reports surfaced Thursday afternoon that the St. Louis Rams are ready and willing to work out a contract extension with quarterback Sam Bradford.

NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported that Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff told him the team views Bradford as the long-term solution at quarterback.

"We have decided that Sam Bradford is our guy. If they came to us and wanted to do a contract extension right now, we'd do it in a minute," Demoff told Silver.

The question that statement begs is ‘Why?’

Bradford is a quarter of the way through his fourth season in the league and every move the Rams made last offseason was clearly with an eye toward building around him, not looking for his replacement.

So it should be no surprise that Demoff, general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher are willing to publicly voice their support for Bradford. In fact, that’s exactly what they should be doing.

It does no harm to back Bradford right now, as he is by far the best option on the team at the position. Creating doubt or a quarterback controversy is the last thing this team needs. It’s good for the team to know that Bradford is the guy, and it’s good for Bradford to know it as well.

But there’s a fine line between offering votes of confidence and taking action that could be potentially damaging to the franchise long term. In a fit of bad timing, Bradford had one of his worst outings of the season only a few hours after the report surfaced.

In fairness, it’s wise not to look at this through the vacuum of that one game. Bradford has had his good moments this season, too, namely leading a comeback win against Arizona in the first week.

By and large, though, Bradford doesn’t have the body of work that should earn a rubber stamp (not to mention the many millions of dollars) that a contract extension would provide.

At this point in his career, Bradford has a career quarterback rating of 77.8, a pedestrian number at best, and has yet to guide the Rams to a winning record or playoff appearance. It’s only been four games this season, but so far the efforts to bolster his supporting cast haven’t paid dividends.

If nothing else, signing Bradford to an extension anytime soon would be premature. His contract doesn’t expire until after the 2015 season. He’s due $27 million over the next two seasons, leaving plenty of time to determine if he can be the type of quarterback that should get a big-money second contract.

By now you may be wondering why, if the Rams are willing to get a deal done, Bradford hasn’t jumped at the chance. NFL Network’s report indicates Bradford is the one who isn’t in a rush to get something done.

It appears Bradford doesn’t believe he has compiled the numbers to get the type of contract he would ultimately like to have, and he’s right. It’s the same approach Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco took in his contract negotiations: bet on yourself and cash in big when you follow through.

It’s an admirable approach, and speaks to the fact that Bradford still has plenty of confidence in himself even if it’s waned among Rams fans.

What might be unsaid in this whole thing is the idea that the Rams would theoretically be able to get Bradford at a cheaper price were he to sign now and start lighting it up later.

That bit of unknown would be a gamble on the Rams’ part, but it would also make a lot more sense than offering a big-money deal now without the resume to support it.

Since Bradford is on a rookie contract under the previous CBA, his rookie deal sets the bar much higher for a second contract. He could potentially even be in line for a short extension that would give him some security for a couple more years before signing a new mega-deal, much like Detroit set itself up to do with Matthew Stafford.

The bottom line is there’s still plenty of time for the Rams to figure out what they have in Bradford, for Bradford to make re-signing him a no brainer and for the sides to work out a contract extension. They might as well use it.