Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the deal to trade a 2017 No. 1 pick and a conditional pick in 2018 to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford, one of his biggest moves, nearly fell apart.
“There were a couple of times where this is going to happen and then [Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman] called back and he’d give a little bit on something and I’d give back a little bit on something,” Spielman said. “I know Howie Roseman really well, and I think a little bit because of the relationship, we were able to work through it.
“I understood what they had to do, and I understood how difficult their situation was, with opening day so close for both teams. So for a team to make that decision to give up their starting quarterback is very difficult. I try to put myself and we tried to put ourselves in Philly’s situation, and that was a very difficult decision for them.
“It was a very difficult decision for us, because I knew you were going to have to pay a premium at this time of year. You know if this was done in the offseason or even in June or something, it’s totally different circumstances because you have a lot of time to get through this. Our situation was we have to get this done quickly, and if this does work, you have to get [Bradford] in here as quickly as possible to start learning the playbook and give him the best chance to have success.”
Spielman also said that in his long history of working in football front offices, this was something he had not seen before.
“This was a very unique situation,” he said. “I have never been, in 26 years, in a situation where you lose your starting young quarterback on a Tuesday in a noncontact drill right before getting ready to open the season.”
Spielman said once it was clear starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was going to be out for the season because of an extensive knee injury, team officials went to work.
“After you get over the initial shock — ‘What are we going to do now?’ — we spent four nights, past midnight, trying to figure out a game plan for how you can recover from that,” Spielman said. “It’s very difficult this time of year because teams know that you’re not going to have normal negotiations like you do during the offseason in a trade or during the draft in a trade. This is a potential trade that has to get done within 48 hours.”
Early doubts on deal
Early in the team’s discussions, Spielman didn’t think a deal of this complexity was going to get completed in such a short time frame.
“I told [Vikings coach Mike Zimmer] Thursday night before the preseason game that this was more than likely not going to happen,” Spielman recalled. “I talked to our ownership as well and said, ‘We’ll do everything to try to get through this and get another quarterback in here.’ I also don’t think anyone in the building has any concerns about Shaun Hill coming in and running the offense and being very efficient.
“I think the biggest concern we had was Shaun Hill, if he goes down and gets hurt during the season, then what do you do? Then you have a young quarterback or a guy that you potentially pick up off the street.”
Looked at all options
Spielman didn’t simply settle on Bradford but was looking around the league at all options. Still, most teams understood how desperate the Vikings were.
“We talked to a lot [of teams], there were some other guys we liked as well,” he said. “They weren’t, I would say, as experienced as Sam, a lot of unknown out there. It’s the same as when I talked about just being unrealistic is they were asking for first-round picks plus one of our premier players, which in no way [made sense] to me, that’s jeopardizing your future.
“Two things came into play. We still have eight draft picks. … The other thing was that Bradford is under a two-year contract as well. Having those two things go along with a team willing to give up a starting quarterback, we were very fortunate.”
Spielman said that the Vikings will have a second-round pick, two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders in the 2017 draft, with two of those selections coming out of a deal the Vikings made during the 2016 draft.
Spielman also said one of the big benefits for the Vikings being able to pull the trigger on Bradford was the coaching staff’s familiarity with him.
“[New Vikings tight ends coach] Pat Shurmur has coached Sam Bradford twice,” Spielman said. “He was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis with him. He coached with him in Philadelphia. … He had a big influence on knowing what Sam’s strengths and weaknesses are, knowing how he’s going to fit in our scheme, knowing the kid as a person, and knowing how smart this kid is. Coaches will determine how quickly he can learn the system and how quickly we can throw him in there.”
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