COMMENTARY | For a number of reasons, it's incredibly disappointing that Sam Bradford's season was cut short thanks to a torn ACL he suffered late in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in October.
The most obvious reason is that it all but ended any hopes the Rams had of making the playoffs. Sure, they finished up the season about as well as you could have ever wished with Kellen Clemens playing quarterback, but few would argue that they were better off that way.
But I also think if Bradford had finished the season playing as well as he had in the weeks leading up to his injury, it would have gone a long way toward quieting many of the critics that still doubt his skill. As it is, though, talk about whether or not Bradford is the quarterback the Rams need him to be still dominates any conversation about the future of the franchise.
Even with this talk, the only sure thing about the Rams quarterback position heading into the 2014 season is that Bradford is going to go in as the starter. The fact that the Rams could release Bradford with minimal financial burden stoked the fire for those that want to see him gone, but in reality, I don't think releasing him was ever a real consideration for the Rams. He is their guy for right now, for better or worse.
Behind him, the position does get pretty interesting.
As I alluded to, Kellen Clemens played reasonably well filling in for Bradford this past season. The numbers (58.7 completion percentage, 1,673 yards, 8 TD, 7 INT) aren't all that impressive, but he led the team to four wins in his nine starts, and on the whole, he got better as the season wore on.
He is a free agent, so the Rams have a decision to make. I don't think too many Rams fans would lose sleep over letting Kellen Clemens walk. After all, there are dozens of quarterbacks with comparable or better skill.
But on the other hand, there is something to be said for continuity and bringing him back would give the Rams that. With so many bad backup quarterbacks out there, having one you know can fill in in a pinch, even if he's not spectacular, is a nice luxury. And he would come relatively inexpensively as well.
The market for Kellen Clemens in free agency won't be all that active, so I'm guessing the Rams explore some other options in free agency or through the draft, but if they don't get a steal in free agency or find a diamond in the rough in the draft, I think they'll be more than happy to bring Clemens back.
Late in the season, the Rams had two other quarterbacks. Austin Davis, who is a young quarterback that has been hanging around the Rams franchise for a couple of seasons, and Brady Quinn, who is a known entity, for better or worse. I wouldn't count on the Rams bringing either player back for the 2014 season and even if they do, I'm not sure either would have any sort of impact.
Neither would challenge to be the backup and given that Fisher was only carrying two quarterbacks at the time Bradford got injured, he may only take two guys out of camp.
If the Rams do make the decision to move on from Clemens as the backup and exchange continuity for a higher ceiling, there are some serviceable players that will be available.
There are some former starters that might be able to catch lightning in a bottle and really push Bradford in camp like Josh Freeman, and to a lesser extent, Derek Anderson and Chad Henne. In terms of talent, those players certainly bring some marketable skills and talent, but at least in the case of Freeman, they may be looking for a chance to compete to be the starter, which the Rams aren't likely to give them.
There are also some career backup types that have a proven track record of being able to win games when called upon like Josh McCown, Matt Flynn, and Shaun Hill. These players would give the Rams a nice insurance policy in case Bradford ends up injured once again, but then it becomes of question of what these players bring that Clemens doesn't.
In the draft, I seriously doubt the Rams look into any quarterback in the first couple of rounds, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them take a flier on a high-ceiling player in the middle rounds just to give them someone to develop behind Bradford.
The NFL Combine and respective pro days are still to come, so there is undoubtedly some movement to come, but right now, players like Tajh Boyd, Aaron Murray, and David Fales seem to fit that bill.
Given that the Rams still seem to be committed to Bradford as the starter, this would seem like a trivial roster decision, but I'm of the opinion that it's a huge decision. Not only are they choosing the person that would get the lion's share of snaps should Bradford go down again, but based on who they bring in during the offseason, they will be telling us just how serious they are when they say that Bradford is the unquestioned starter for the foreseeable future.
Joseph Healy is a content marketing journalist by day and sportswriter by night. He resides in the St. Louis area.
You can follow Joseph on Twitter @Joe_On_Sports.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Kellen Clemens
- Sam Bradford