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Trading Sam Bradford for Jay Cutler is a Move That Makes Sense for Rams and Bears

Steve Silverman

Steve Silverman is a longtime sportswriter who spent 10 years as senior editor at Pro Football Weekly and he has also written for the Wall Street Journal, ESPN Magazine, MSNBC, and NFL.com. Silverman currently covers all sports – including the NFL – for CBS New York and Bleacher Report.

Good, old-fashioned trades are not very common in the NFL.

Yes, plenty of trades happen on and around Draft Day, when this year’s draft choices are shipped for future picks and the occasional player, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

We are talking about a good, old one-for-one trade that involves the trade of one established position player for another.

We’ve got one for you, and there is a legitimate chance that this one takes place. The trading partners are the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams.

The trade may very well be a simple one-for-one deal that sends embattled Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler for oft-injured St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford.

Based on strong conversation around both organizations, each team may be willing to take a chance on the other team’s problem.

The Rams are obviously frustrated with Bradford’s inability to stay healthy. Bradford played just seven games for the Rams in the 2013 season, and while he came to training camp loaded with optimism in 2014, he was injured again during the summer and did not play in a single game.

Bradford was the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and while there was a genuine concern about his ability to stand in an NFL pocket, take a big hit and continue to play, the Rams were true believers.

After three decent seasons that saw him flash his talent, injuries have ruined him. He missed six games in 2011 due to a high ankle sprain. His 2013 season was cut short due to an ACL tear, and he suffered that same injury in 2014.

The Rams know that he is a capable and smart leader with a superior attitude, but do they really want to go into the 2015 season with Bradford waiting for another injury to happen?

One thing the Bears know about Cutler is that he does not have a great attitude. He has demonstrated that he is the poster boy for sulking NFL quarterbacks. The attitude that generally comes across when Cutler is on the field is that “I’m getting paid no matter what happens in this game, and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem.”

That may be severe and it may not be the actual case, but that’s just what Cutler projects on an every-week basis.

Cutler’s inconsistency and inability to help the Bears win consistently cost Lovie Smith his job as the Bears head coach after the 2012 season. It also cost Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery their positions (along with their own mind-blowing incompetence) at the end of last season.

Why would new general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox want anything to do with Cutler? Unless they secretly want to be out of a job after the 2015 season, they will send Cutler packing.

The Rams have an interest in Cutler because of his physical tools. Remember, Cutler was the 11th overall pick of the Denver Broncos in 2006. That was because he had the physical skills and measurables needed to become an excellent quarterback in the NFL.

He seemed to be on his way early in his career with the Broncos, but he demanded a trade after his third year in Denver. When he arrived in Chicago, he had the reputation of a diva, and that reputation has only gotten worse after six seasons with the Bears.

Cutler knows how he is perceived in Chicago, and although he professes not to care – how fitting – he would clearly benefit from a fresh start.

The same holds true for Bradford. If he’s in Rams camp next summer, how does he not think about previous injuries when he remains in the same environment? If the Rams move him, he gets to start over again and he doesn’t have to repeat the same patterns. He just has to think about playing football.

Money is a huge factor in any potential trade. While Cutler is under contract through 2021 as a result of the paper Emery gave him one year ago, he is only on the hook for the 2015 and ’16 seasons. The Rams would have a cap hit of $16.5 million this year and $17 million next year if Cutler is on their roster. Bradford has a cap hit of $16.58 million in 2015 and is a free agent after this season.

Since both players are making essentially the same amount of money from a salary cap perspective in 2015, the Rams would just have to decide if having Cutler on the payroll the following season is worth the risk.

Trade Bradford to Chicago, and his positive frame of mind and love for the game of football will make him a welcome addition. Just the fact that he is not Cutler will allow him to be thought of as a potential savior.

Trade Cutler to St. Louis, and gets rid of his Chicago baggage. He gets yet another fresh start, and while he has repeated mistakes in the past, he is not stupid. Perhaps he has learned and a new uniform and a new city will bring out an acceptable attitude.

We’re not saying it’s likely, but Cutler has a much better chance of being a productive citizen – and quarterback – in a new city.

The Bears don’t want to have Cutler on their roster next year, and the Rams can’t feel confident about Bradford. It’s time to trade them for each other.