Sam Bradford comes into this season with a huge question mark hanging over his ability to stay on the field for a full season. That feat would make it the first time since 2012 he has been able to do this. Standing in his way is the recovery from the two surgeries on his left ACL in consecutive seasons. ACL revision surgeries are very different to primary tear ACLs. With a primary tear the chances of re-injury are actually very low (2-5%). With a secondary tear the chances of re-injury to the same ACL greatly increase. Not only that but we have found that the chances of injury to other parts of the lower body also greatly increase.
There aren’t too many examples of players who have had ACL revision surgeries because it is such a rare occurrence. Here are the ones we have with injury in parenthesis is what followed the next year or two. Keep in mind Hixon, Alexander and Moreno all retired/were cut and went unclaimed after their last injury that followed the revision surgery.
Robert Griffin III (dislocated ankle)
Ryan Broyles (torn Achilles)
Domenik Hixon (ACL)
Danario Alexander (ACL)
The outlook is not great considering the players who are on the list. The other element that he shares with the above group of players is that he has a long list of injuries that preceded the two ACL tears. He required surgery on his shoulder and he missed a large chunk of the 2011 season with a severe high ankle sprain that had him in a cast with 2010 and 2012 being the only years he has made it through the full complement of games in 5 seasons.
The narrative around OTAs and minicamp did not support Bradford being ready to go. Per Rotoworld on 6/10/15: “During a Tuesday visit to Eagles OTAs, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora described Sam Bradford (ACL surgeries) as “still hobbled,” and noted that Bradford did very little work during team drills”.
The high octane Eagles offense is fantasy gold for any competent QB which Bradford is and more when at full health. Monitoring how he responds to the increased activity and mobility at training camp is critical if you’re thinking of drafting him this season.
Finally, the counter argument to everything written above is that Chip Kelly is very quickly getting a reputation as someone who has cracked injury prediction and prevention in the NFL. Adjusted Games Lost is a statistic that is measured by the folks at Football Outsiders which tracks how many total games are missed through injury in a season. Kelly is the only coach since the merger to have his team appear in the top 5 healthiest teams two years in a row. He paid handsomely for Bradford taking on his salary hit and giving up Foles (his starting QB) and 3 draft picks.
From the outside it has everyone scratching their heads but it wouldn’t surprise anyone here if Kelly knows something we don’t.