Sam Bradford

Monday Night Football: Vikings cruise, Broncos survive on MNF

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Monday Night Football: Vikings cruise, Broncos survive on MNF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sam Bradford started his second season with Minnesota in style, passing for 346 yards and three touchdowns to help the Vikings beat New Orleans 29-19 on Monday night and spoil Adrian Peterson's first game with the Saints.

Stefon Diggs had seven receptions for 93 yards, two for scores, and Adam Thielen racked up 157 yards on nine catches as Bradford carved up a Saints defense that looked again like one of the worst in the league despite a major renovation. Rookie Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards in the formal takeover from Peterson.

Peterson was an afterthought once the Saints fell behind. Drew Brees was quiet, too, with 291 yards on 27-for-37 passing padded by the late push to catch up. Coby Fleener caught the only touchdown toss, after the 2-minute warning. Will Lutz made four field goals, three under 25 yards.

Brees and Bradford are both in the final year of their contracts, with the same agent, Tom Condon, who is sure to cash in on both clients. Brees has by far the better resume, nine seasons further into his career, but Bradford stole the show on this prime-time stage.

Behind mostly clean pockets created by a remade offensive line, Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes without a turnover. With three rookies and three free agents in the starting lineup, the Saints tried hard to better a defense that has held Brees and company back since the Super Bowl title eight years ago. The first performance left a lot to be desired, with Diggs and Thielen consistently finding favorable matchups underneath.

There were three unnecessary roughness calls in the first half by the Saints. Two of the personal fouls aided a drive that ended with one of three field goals by Kai Forbath, who missed one extra point. The other 15-yarder was on safety Kenny Vaccaro for head-hunting Diggs during an acrobatic catch in the closing seconds of the first half. Diggs came right back with another highlight-reel grab to give the Vikings a 16-6 lead at the break.

Cameron Jordan and A.J. Klein each had their hands on a tipped pass in the end zone that fluttered off Cook's hands, missing a critical opportunity to thwart that drive and keep the deficit at four points (see full recap).

Broncos hold off Chargers’ late rally with FG block
DENVER -- Shelby Harris got a hand on Younghoe Koo's 44-yard field goal attempt with a second left, and the Broncos began the Vance Joseph era with a 24-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.

Moments earlier, Koo had nailed the kick, but Joseph called a timeout to ice the kicker.

On the re-do, Harris -- who made the team because of a rash of injuries along the D-line -- sliced through and got his right hand on the kick.

It was reminiscent of last year's opener, when the Broncos escaped with a 21-20 win over the Carolina Panthers when Graham Gano missed a 50-yard field goal with 4 seconds left.

Denver took a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter but had two turnovers that were converted into touchdowns, a missed field goal and a punt.

Before those fourth-quarter foibles, Trevor Siemian threw two TD passes to Bennie Fowler and ran for another score.

The Broncos held Philip Rivers to 115 yards passing through three quarters but let him engineer a comeback when Siemian threw an interception and Jamaal Charles fumbled on plays that were upheld despite video evidence that had the crowd of 76,324 convinced they should have been overturned (see full recap).

Eagles to pick 14th in first round after winning coin flip vs. Colts

Eagles to pick 14th in first round after winning coin flip vs. Colts

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Eagles had a little luck on their side on Friday.

The coin flip at the combine to determine the 14th and 15th selections in the upcoming draft turned out the Eagles' way. They now hold the No. 14 pick in April's draft. The Colts will pick 15th.

Really, the coin flip was between the Vikings and Colts, who both finished the 2016 season with identical records and strength of schedules. The coin had a Colts logo on one side and a Vikings logo on the other. The Eagles were hoping to see the Vikings' logo when the coin landed after Hall of Famer Will Shields flipped it. This was quite a spectacle, with fans and even a PA announcer. 

The Eagles own the Vikings' pick thanks to the Sam Bradford trade just before last season. The Eagles' original selection -- at No. 12 -- belongs to the Browns after the trade up to No. 2 last spring.

For a long time, it looked like the Eagles would end up with a late-first-round selection from the Vikings, who started the season with a 5-0 record before the Eagles beat them to start a four-game losing streak.

Now, the Eagles will have the 14th pick when the draft kicks off in Philadelphia in April.

With their first-round selection now figured out, here is the list of Eagles' draft picks by round in 2017:

Round 1: 14

Round 2: 43

Round 3: 74

Round 4: 119, 139 (from Browns)

Round 5: 155

Round 6: 194

Round 7: 230

With the 14th pick in the draft, the Eagles should have a really good chance of snagging a Pro Bowl-caliber player. Is there really a difference between 14 and 15? A while back we looked at the last 10 picks who went 14th or 15th overall (see story).

Four of the last 10 picks at No. 14 have made the Pro Bowl and three have been named to an All-Pro team. Seven of the last 10 picks at No. 15 (compared to four at 14) have made a Pro Bowl, while one was an All-Pro.

Here are the last 10 picks at No. 14:

2016: S Karl Joseph

2015: WR DeVante Parker

2014: CB Kyle Fuller

2013: DT Star Lotulelei

2012: DT Michael Brockers

2011: DT Robert Quinn

2010: S Earl Thomas

2009: S Malcolm Jenkins

2008: OL Chris Williams

2007: CB Darrelle Revis

Here are the last 10 picks at No. 15:

2016: WR Corey Coleman

2015: RB Melvin Gordon

2014: LB Ryan Shazier

2013: S Kenny Vaccaro

2012: OLB Bruce Irvin

2011: C Mike Pouncey

2010: DE Jason Pierre-Paul

2009: LB Brian Cushing

2008: OT Branden Albert

2007: LB Lawrence Timmons

The Eagles have had significantly more success picking in the top 20 than they've had picking in the bottom third of the first round in the last 10 years.

During that span, here's a look at their first-round picks 20-32: Nelson Agholor, Marcus Smith and Danny Watkins.

And here's 1-19: Carson Wentz, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jeremy Maclin.

The Eagles have plenty of needs to fill with this year's first-round draft pick. Perhaps most pressing are needs at cornerback and wide receiver. This year is exceptionally deep at cornerback. It's less deep at receiver, but there likely will be a top target still available in the middle of the first round.

Eagles Cost Analysis 2017, QBs: Chase Daniel isn't going anywhere

Eagles Cost Analysis 2017, QBs: Chase Daniel isn't going anywhere

Last offseason, the Eagles made an unprecedented investment in not one, not two, but three quarterbacks, and for the most part, that series of moves paid off. Trading a slew of draft picks to go up and get Carson Wentz appears to have been well worth the capital, while re-signing Sam Bradford beforehand allowed the club to turn around and flip the veteran signal-caller afterward.

Chase Daniel, on the other hand, remains a confusing addition to many people, particularly because he came at such a steep price tag. A career backup with only two NFL starts, Daniel's three-year contract for $21 million included $12 million fully guaranteed — enough to tie the Eagles' hands through 2017 at least.

Oh, the Eagles could cut Daniel. It's just that doing so probably costs the organization more money in the long run.

The $1 million in space Daniel's hypothetical release creates under the salary cap would have to be put toward a new backup quarterback anyway. Assuming his replacement has any meaningful experience at all, a mil isn't going to cover it. And even if the Eagles use a mid-to-late-round draft pick to fill that role, the savings are still negligible, eliminating any benefit to taking such a gamble.

In theory, the Eagles can get out from under Daniel's contract if he is traded. Since $5 million of his remaining guarantees are tied to the base salary for '17, Daniel's new team would be agreeing to shoulder that financial burden, leaving the Eagles to deal with just the remaining $2 million in prorated signing bonus money. Now it's a savings of $6 million — of course, such a scenario is entirely dependent upon another team coveting Daniel, which doesn't seem incredibly likely.

Daniel has little incentive to accept a pay cut, either, unless it comes in the form of a long-term extension. Clearly, the Eagles have no leverage, and he's not at risk of losing a starting job he doesn't have, so the offer would have to be pretty compelling to pass on earning $7 million next season.

Which means no matter how wasteful you may find his contract, you're going to have another year to learn how to say his name. It's Chase Daniel, not Chase Daniels. Get used it.

QUARTERBACKS UNDER CONTRACT

Chase Daniel
Age: 31*
Cap Number: $8,000,000

As of now, Daniel has the 25th-highest cap number for a quarterback in the NFL for '17. The only dedicated backup in the league who's currently scheduled to take up more room is Nick Foles with the Chiefs ($10.75m). In fact, Daniel's hit is double that of any QB in a comparable situation, which is obviously a lot for a player who literally attempted one pass all of last season. Even if he were to actually play, his body of work over eight seasons is so minuscule, it's hard to say what the Eagles would get. He does know head coach Doug Pederson's offense, which is the explanation for his being here. In terms of a comparison, Daniel's absolute best case scenario might be Jeff Garcia. Unless that happens, this just looks like a bad contract.

Carson Wentz 
Age: 25*
Cap Number: $6,062,804

Wentz cemented himself as the Eagles quarterback of the future this season. What he accomplished as a rookie, with a first-year head coach, with a thin supporting cast — particularly at the wide receiver position — and a patchwork offensive line was incredible. Especially considering he worked with the third-team offense during OTAs and training camp and missed all but one preseason game due to injury. Wentz started all 16 games, completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 6.2 yards per attempt with 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. That's only good for a pedestrian 79.3 rating, but given the circumstances, it often felt spectacular. Surround him with some talent and watch the Eagles become a Super Bowl contender for the next decade.

EXPIRING CONTRACTS

Aaron Murray
Age: 27*
2016 Cap Number: $110,400

A fifth-round pick by the Chiefs in 2014, Murray was added to the practice squad after the Bradford trade. Basically, he knows Pederson's system and was insurance in case Wentz and Daniel got hurt, though the 26-year-old has never appeared in an NFL game. Murray was the only player on the scout team who did not sign a futures contract at the conclusion of the season, so he's a free agent. The logical conclusion to draw is interest from the Eagles isn't very high. He could still return as a camp arm, but the club would be best served by drafting a third QB who could be groomed to replace Daniel in 2018.

DEAD MONEY

Sam Bradford
Age: 30*
Dead Money: $5,500,000

Because Bradford was dealt to the Vikings after June 1, the dead money from the $11 million signing bonus he received from the Eagles was spread across last season and next. That seems well worth it considering the return on their investment was a first-round draft pick this year and a fourth in '18. Keep in mind, the Eagles didn't know for certain they would be able to move up and take Wentz when they re-signed Bradford, so if the criticism is they could have used that money in free agency rather than on picks, that's true — but then it's also true Daniel could be the starter right now. In other words, while there was definitely risk involved in giving Bradford a two-year extension, everything worked out about as perfectly as it could have there.

*Ages are as of 12/31/17