Sam Bradford Explains Decision to Leave and Return to Eagles

As the Eagles kicked off OTAs on Tuesday, Sam Bradford was back under center, taking reps with the first-team offense.

That's a far cry from three weeks ago.

That's when the Eagles traded up to the No. 2 pick in the draft to take Carson Wentz, which Bradford reacted to by leaving voluntary workouts and requesting a trade out of town.

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Last week, Bradford returned to the team.

But why did he leave in the first place?

"It was one of those things where, when I first found out about the trade, I was frustrated," Bradford said on Tuesday afternoon in his first public comments since April 19. "I just felt like I needed some time. I could have stayed here, could have continued to work here, but I'm not sure my head really would have been here those two weeks."

During the offseason, Bradford signed a two-year deal with $22 million guaranteed. But that was before the Eagles signed veteran backup Chase Daniel, and more importantly, before they moved up to the No. 2 pick in the draft to select North Dakota State's Wentz.

While giving the timeline of events on Tuesday, Bradford said he learned about the team's trade to No. 2 in the draft on Wednesday, April 20, during the veteran minicamp. He showed up to practice the next day, but that Friday his agent, Tom Condon, called him and advised they ask for a trade.

Bradford said requesting a trade was Condon's idea.

"Tom Condon's been my agent for my entire career," Bradford said. "He's a guy that I really trust. At the time where we were going through this process, he felt like that was the best option for me. And given that I trust him and know that he has my best interest at heart, I'm always going to follow his advice."

When Bradford signed a two-year deal this offseason, his plan, he said, was to play well enough during those two seasons to earn a long-term deal and ultimately finish his career in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, he talked about his quest for stability in his career. While there were never any promises made, his future with the Eagles was much murkier after the team moved up for Wentz.

Bradford said he returned to the team last week after he realized that "this is still the best place for me to be." But when asked specifically, he admitted that the trade market for him drying up also played a role.

During his media tour after requesting a trade for his client, Condon continually said that because the Eagles gave up so much to trade up for Wentz, there wasn't a true competition, that eventually Wentz would be handed the keys to the organization.

"I think it's one of those things, now my approach is week to week," Bradford said on Tuesday. "And it's always been like that. The competition is what it is. I think if I continue to play at a high level each week on the field, if we continue to win games, if we are winning games, I think that I will be the starting quarterback and I will be out there.

"With that being said, I'm not completely naïve. I think you realize that the organization made a move to get up to 2, at some point, it's probably not going to be my team. But until it's not, I'm going to continue to lead these guys the way I did last year. And I'm going to do the job to the best of my ability."

Throughout the mini "holdout," head coach Doug Pederson and vice president of football operations Howie Roseman continued to say they and the team would welcome Bradford back with open arms.

Bradford arrived back at the NovaCare Complex last week. He didn't have any kind of meeting with his teammates, but has talked to many of them in passing. Instead, he chose to simply get back to work.

"He's still the leader of this team, I feel like," said Zach Ertz, who is one of the closest people to Bradford in the locker room, and who talked to him several times while Bradford was away. "He only missed seven days. People want to make it a huge deal and call it a holdout. When he came back, he wasn't with the ones right away, so he had to kind of earn his way back to get with the ones and he did that."

While his teammates, at least in large part, have chosen to publicly welcome Bradford back to the organization, fans haven't been so forgiving.

For the past several weeks, fans have voiced their displeasure with Bradford on talk radio, in comments sections and on social media. Bradford is a private person and normally tries to avoid outside criticism, but this time, the word has gotten back to the quarterback.

"I haven't read it first-hand, but I think other people have made it pretty clear that it's not pretty out there right now," Bradford said.

What would he say to those fans?

"I get it," Bradford said. "They have every right to be frustrated. I think the only thing that I can do going forward is to continue to get better. To go out there on Sundays starting in September, play good football, win football games and hopefully win them back. I don't think there's anything I can say. It's all about my actions and what I do going forward."

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