When explaining why he chose to gamble on oft-injured quarterback Sam Bradford, Kelly likes to reference the cautionary tale of another wildly prosperous college head coach whose NFL fate he is trying to avoid.

When with the Miami Dolphins in 2006, Nick Saban had the opportunity to sign Drew Brees as an unrestricted free agent. Saban passed because team doctors felt Brees couldn’t mount a successful comeback from the shoulder surgery he underwent the previous season.

Brees continues to prove Miami’s medical staff wrong each year while forging a Hall of Fame career with New Orleans. As for Saban, he retreated to the University of Alabama after a 6-10 campaign with the Dolphins.

Kelly strongly believes Bradford can enjoy similar success to Brees by rebounding from the knee injuries that have sidelined him for the better part of the last two seasons in St. Louis.

“The impact Drew had on the Saints was really what we studied,” said Kelly, who traded 2014 starting quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams last March as part of a package for Bradford. “What would this league be like if Nick Saban had Drew Brees? Would Nick have ever gone back to Alabama?”

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