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Little doubt of Rams' plan for Sam Bradford

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The purpose of the St. Louis Rams' news conference on Friday was to introduce Frank Cignetti as the new offensive coordinator. It's a mission they accomplished, but it was also old news.

The underlying theme of the press conference featuring Cignetti and coach Jeff Fisher offered a further affirmation of some other old news: That the Rams have every intention of bringing quarterback Sam Bradford back in 2015. And, so long as Bradford is healthy, he'll almost certainly be the starter.

Throughout the nearly 22-minute press conference, Bradford's name came up again and again, sometimes by way of a question, sometimes without prompting. Perhaps most telling of all was this response from Fisher when he was asked what input Cignetti would have regarding the team's offseason search for help at quarterback.

"He’ll have significant input on that," Fisher said. "As I mentioned, that most likely is going to happen. It’s not as much from the standpoint of challenging Sam; it’s to have options. We don’t know what that looks like right now. We don’t know if that’s draft, free agency or what that looks like. But when we line up in September, we’ll have somebody there.”

Barring a major turn of events, that somebody will be Bradford. Given the dearth of legitimate and realistic quarterback options who figure to be available to the Rams this offseason, that should be no surprise. But Fisher's comment about having options and not "challenging" Bradford represents something of a step backward from his comments in the end-of-the-season news conference.

"There's going to be competition at the quarterback position, there's no doubt," Fisher said then. "With somebody that is not in the building right now. We're hopeful for that. You have to be realistic, but I think we need to do that. Sam understands that. He doesn't have any problem with competition. He's been competing his whole life."

It's no secret that the Rams would like to bring Bradford back. They have never wavered from that, though they have also been open about their desire to bring him back at a cap number below his current $16.58 million with a base salary reduced from the $12.985 million he's scheduled to get in 2015. For the record, there hasn't been much movement on that front, but things could heat up soon, perhaps at next week's NFL scouting combine, when agents and teams converge on Indianapolis.

In the meantime, everything the Rams have done this offseason points toward Bradford remaining in St. Louis. That starts with moving Cignetti into the offensive coordinator job.

Cignetti has been Bradford's position coach for the past three years and offers an easy and smooth transition for the QB in a system that will remain mostly the same, with Cignetti in Brian Schottenheimer's former role.

"Continuity, stability, same system for Sam, same system for the rest of his teammates was very, very important and it was about how we get better," Fisher said.

Even before elevating Cignetti from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, Fisher said he had a long conversation with Bradford about Cignetti and who he'd like to see in the coordinator role.

“I had a lengthy discussion with Sam, yes, prior to making the decision," Fisher said. "It was part of the information-gathering process. Sam was very forthcoming. He had some firm opinions. I really enjoyed and appreciated his input.”

Asked if Cignetti would have gotten the job if Bradford hadn't provided positive feedback, Fisher offered another not-so-subtle clue about where Bradford stands.

"We wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Fisher said.

For his part, Cignetti also provided little room for error in describing his view of the position moving forward.

"We’re looking forward to Sam moving forward," Cignetti said. "He’s doing a great job in his rehabilitation. When you go back last year, he had an outstanding offseason. He had a great training camp. Unfortunately, in Cleveland he got injured. Moving forward, getting Sam back healthy will greatly increase our chances of winning.”

According to Fisher, Bradford is making progress on his road to recovery from a second ACL tear in as many seasons and has been at Rams Park every day since the end of the season. If the Rams get their way, that's a habit that won't be changing anytime soon.