If the indications I get from those around the Oklahoma football program are valid, then quarterback Sam Bradford will return for at least another season.I’ve said that before and feel more confident about it this week. But if you want to read between the lines of something coach Bob Stoops said Monday, you get the same impression I do, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a Scrooge. Stoops said he did not believe Bradford would wait until the deadline of Jan.15 to make his intention known, that he would do it at “a point sometime after the (BCS Championship) game.” Now Bob didn’t say whether that would be shortly thereafter, or a matter of days. But you get the drift that Bradford has already made up his mind. And it didn’t look like Stoops was unhappy in his speculation, though I could be dead wrong about that. But better NFL thinkers than I believe Bradford should come back, including longtime talent guru and former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel (1960-88) Gil Brandt. “It’s not a hard decision at all,” Brandt said the other day over the phone. “The only decision (Sam) needs to make is to be sure he’s back there (behind center) when they play their first game next year.”
I’ve known Gil a long time. He never says anything without reason, usually good ones. And he cited several in this case--among them pointing out that recent successful NFL quarterbacks like the Manning brothers and most recently Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Joe Flacco (Ravens) all have something in common--they were fourth or fifth-year players before they made the jump.You think that was an accident? Brandt does not. “The key thing for successful quarterbacks (in the NFL) is if they can get 40 starts in college,” Brandt said. “It’s like getting a master’s degree at MIT. “The thing people don’t realize is that playing the position in the NFL is really hard. What you see in college defensively is a fraction of what you see in the NFL. If you don’t have a guy who is really experienced. . .” Brandt scoffed at the idea that Bradford would be throwing away millions of dollars because of a looming rookie salary cap.
“I’ve been hearing that since 1965,” he snorted.“You go back to 1985. The entire (draft) class got $18 million worth of signing bonus money. When (Eli) Manning came out four years ago, he got $18 million by himself. You don’t regress salary-wise (by staying) and you reach your point of getting all your incentives a lot quicker. “Matt Ryan is going to get every incentive he has in his contract. So instead of netting $45 million over the length of his contract, it might be closer to $60 million. So the longer Sam Bradford stays at Oklahoma, the better player he is going to become--and it will happen a lot sooner.”
"Bradford is good,” Brandt said. “He’s a great person, an unbelievable athlete. But more than anything he is a really composed individual who is very dedicated to being an outstanding quarterback.”
And if you’ll recall, Bradford posted a 3.95 grade-point average his last semester as a finance major. What do you think he’s thinking? My educated guess is it ain’t take the money and run.