PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly seems determined to prove he doesn’t prefer a mobile quarterback to run his offense.
That was the assumption when the Philadelphia Eagles hired Kelly two years ago. It remained the assumption when ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news Tuesday of the trade that sent Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford. Speculation immediately turned toward how Kelly might use Bradford as a means to trading up in the NFL draft for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, that perhaps the Eagles could use draft picks from the Rams to move up in the first round.
When the details of the trade were announced later Tuesday evening, though, everything looked different. The Eagles also sent the Rams their fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft, plus a conditional second-round pick in the 2016 draft.
Instead of having more draft picks to parlay into a Mariota deal, the Eagles have fewer. Nothing is certain, but at this point it looks as if Bradford is the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2015 and beyond.
Back in 2013, Kelly pitted Foles against Michael Vick in a competition for the Eagles’ starting quarterback job. Vick won, but Foles replaced him early in the season after Vick pulled a hamstring. After Vick was healthy, Foles remained the starter.
Last offseason, Kelly and the Eagles signed Mark Sanchez as their backup quarterback. Sanchez is marginally more mobile than Foles, but he’s not exactly Mariota when it comes to running. The suspicion deepened that Kelly would find a way to get Mariota, or someone as mobile, in order to run his offense at its most explosive.
When Kelly won a power struggle with general manager Howie Roseman and gained full control of personnel decisions, that looked like another sign that he would make Mariota his No. 1 priority.
Instead, Kelly has found a quarterback who is perhaps less mobile than Foles after two torn anterior cruciate ligaments. And Kelly compensated the Rams with more value in draft picks, thereby making it unlikely that a Mariota deal is coming.
There is a connection for Bradford here. Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur held that job with the Rams when they drafted Bradford in 2010. Bradford completed 60 percent of his passes as a rookie that season, with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The Rams went 7-9.
Shurmur left after that season to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Bradford threw six touchdown passes and six interceptions in 2011. He also missed six games because of injury. In 2012 and 2013, Bradford returned as the starter. He went 10-12-1, throwing 35 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Midway through the 2013 season, Bradford tore his ACL for the first time. He missed the rest of that season. He re-tore the ligament late in the 2014 preseason and missed the entire season.
Foles missed half the 2014 season after breaking his collarbone in a Week 9 game in Houston. For the Rams, that represents durability compared to Bradford.
Unless Kelly has something else up his sleeve that will get him closer to Mariota, Bradford is the Eagles’ new franchise quarterback. Fortunately, Kelly has practiced running his offense with Foles and Sanchez. He should be able to adapt to Bradford.