The Vikings on Tuesday released Kyle Rudolph, making the former Pro Bowl tight end a free agent after spending 10 seasons in Minnesota.
Rudolph, 31, penned a nice goodbye letter to Minnesota in The Players’ Tribune. It’s a nice gesture. Rudolph thanks the team, his teammates, fans. It’s thoughtful but not out of the ordinary.
But there is one part in particular that will stand out for Eagles fans … when Rudolph mentions Sam Bradford:
“Guys like Sam Bradford, who never got the credit he deserved, but battled through injury for two years to try to get us over the hump. (I sincerely believe that we win a Super Bowl in 2017 if Sam is healthy. Such an incredibly talented dude, an unreal passer when his body was right.)”
A Super Bowl, you say?
This might get a side glance from Eagles fans for two reasons:
1. The Eagles traded Bradford to the Vikings in 2016 just before the season after Teddy Bridgwater’s injury. The Eagles started Carson Wentz as a rookie and the Birds got back a first-round pick that ended up being No. 14 (Derek Barnett).
2. The Eagles beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game in 2017. After Case Keenum and the Vikings scored first, the Eagles scored 38 unanswered points to win 38-7 at the Linc and advance to Super Bowl LII. (They Eagles won the Super Bowl as you might recall.)
Hey, who knows, maybe Rudolph is right. But I was at the Linc for that championship game and it’s hard to imagine that Bradford would have made a difference. The Eagles were the better team and it just seemed like they were destined to head to the Super Bowl that year.
And something you might not remember is that Bradford dressed for the NFC Championship Game. He was Keenum’s backup that day after getting activated off IR for the divisional round.
In 2017, Bradford ultimately played just in two games and was good. He completed 74% of his passes for 382 yards and 3 touchdowns. But the Vikings were good without him too. They went on to have a 13-3 record, win the NFC North and were even favored in that NFC Championship Game.
After that 2017 season, Bradford played in three games for the Cardinals the following season — those were the final three games of his NFL career.
In his only full season in Minnesota, in 2016, Bradford had the best year of his career. He completed 71.6% of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and a passer rating of 99.3. He might have been even better in 2017 had his knee injuries not piled up but we’ll never know.
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