Ten years ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stood up at the podium in front of the Radio City Music Hall crowd and announced, “with the first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select Sam Bradford, quarterback, Oklahoma.” A lot has changed since that April night 10 years ago. Namely, the Rams skipped town, and Bradford is out of football. But don’t feel sorry for Bradford, he’s smiling all the way to the bank.
Sam Bradford selected No. 1 and impressed as a rookie
When the St. Louis Rams selected Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick, it surprised no one. The Rams wanted Bradford from the start. There was no doubt he had impressive numbers with the Sooners, including his sophomore campaign in 2008, when he set all kinds of NCAA offensive records en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.
There was just one question — could Bradford steer clear of the injury bug that plagued him his final season at Oklahoma?
That 2010 season in St. Louis, Bradford checked all the right boxes. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo named the rookie quarterback his opening-day starter. Things got off to a rocky start when the Rams and Bradford opened the season at home with a 17-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Bradford completed 32 of 55 for 253 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
After a second-week loss, Bradford rebounded well that season and guided the Rams to a 7-9 record, a drastic improvement over the one-win team in 2009. The rookie quarterback finished the season with 3,512 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. His performance was good enough to earn AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Bradford’s injury-riddled career as a journeyman
The Rams had high expectations for Sam Bradford in 2011, but a high-ankle sprain suffered early in the season plagued him throughout the year. He played in just 10 games and finished with 2,164 passing yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions. The team regressed finishing 1–9 in games Bradford played and a 2–14 record overall.
Bradford played for three more seasons with the Rams but suffered a torn ACL in week 7 of the 2013 season. The following year in a pre-season game, he sustained a repeat injury to the same knee and missed the entire 2014 campaign.
Bradford played a season in Philadelphia the following year before landing in Minnesota with the Vikings. In 2016, he had his most successful year in his nine-year career finishing with 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He set a franchise record completing 395 passes.
To start the 2017 season, Bradford had a stellar week one performance completing 27-of-32 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over the New Orleans Saints. Then he vanished off the radar. It would be the last game for Bradford in a Vikings uniform. Doctors diagnosed him with wear and tear in his knee.
Sam Bradford signed a two-year contract in March 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals worth up to $20 million the first year with $15 million guaranteed. After two ineffective performances to start the 2018 season, the Cardinals benched him. In November, Arizona released him.
Sam Bradford made $130 million for very little production
In nine seasons with four different teams, only one season in which he played all 16 games, Sam Bradford was paid just over $130 million for his services, according to Spotrac. Here’s a look at the insane amount of money Bradford made for his production, or lack thereof, over the course of his career.
With a total salary of $130 million, Bradford made:
- $1.56 million per game (83)
- $70,000 per completion (1,855)
- $1.25 million per touchdown (103)
- $6,684 per yard (19,449)
With $15 million guaranteed for his one season (3 games) in Arizona, Bradford made:
- $5 million per game (3)
- $300,000 per completion (50)
- $7.5 million per touchdown (2)
- $37,400 per yard (400)
Sam Bradford won’t be remembered for breaking any records in the league besides the one he set for earning the most money for the least amount of production.