EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —The chaos that was the 2016 season is long gone for Sam Bradford.
The Vikings quarterback doesn't have to endure weekly cram sessions on a team he joined just eight days before the start of the season.
Instead, Bradford is using the Vikings voluntary offseason workouts as a chance to catch his breath on all things football and start looking ahead to 2017.
"Obviously, last year was pretty unique. I've never been in that situation, and I don't think most people probably have been in that situation," Bradford said Tuesday from Winter Park. "But just to be here this offseason, be able to go through the program, be able to go through the meetings and installs and really learn this offense and what we're trying to do, it's a much better situation than showing up here eight or nine days before the first game and trying to kind of learn everything on the fly."
Bradford was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia on Sept. 3 and was almost immediately thrown into the fire.
Although he didn't play in Minnesota's season-opening win, Bradford started the final 15 games of the season and compiled a strong stat line — 395 completions in 552 attempts (for an NFL record 71.6 completion percentage) for 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Bradford said his comfort level increased as the season went along. He also dealt with some upheaval as Pat Shurmur took over as the Vikings offensive coordinator midway through the 2016 campaign.
"I think the later we got in the year, the better I felt with it," Bradford said. "Obviously, going through the (offensive coordinator) change that we did halfway through the season … having worked with Pat like I had before, I think that really helped me because we have a really good relationship. I felt like we were able to communicate.
"Toward the end of the year, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of things," Bradford added.
A pair of Bradford's top targets said Tuesday that they are ecstatic to spend a full offseason with their starting quarterback.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a team-high 84 catches for 903 yards with three touchdowns in 2016.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph had 83 receptions for 840 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns.
Both players said they were excited to see how the Vikings offense progresses over the next few months.
"It's great," Diggs said. "We did some good things (in 2016), saw a little spark here and there with what we could be. With the offseason and the preparation going into it, things should manifest on their own."
Added Rudolph: "For Sam, he doesn't have to come in (eight days before the season opener). He gets an offseason with us, and we get to go out and throw the ball around a little bit. You add a couple new guys, and we're trying to bring them along as quick as possible. We're just trying to lay this foundation for 2017 as an offense to help our team win more football games."
Bradford noted that while the focus is on football during offseason workouts, the time spent together also gives players a chance to bond off the field.
"I think that's a big part of this whole time we're here. Just getting everyone back together and spending time together and being in the building together," Bradford said. "It's good to get into meetings and talk ball and get back into it after having a nice break.
"But the biggest part of this is the camaraderie … building those relationships, building those bonds that you can lean on during the season," Bradford added. "Not having all of our effort put into game-planning and the task at hand, I think this time of year is great for (bonding). We can put more focus on a little more than just football."
The 2016 season was unlike any other that Bradford had been involved with. He's hoping 2017 is a little calmer.
"I learned a lot about a lot of things last year going through that," Bradford said. " I just think it makes me grateful to have the opportunity to be here at this time of year and be able to go through the offseason program and to hopefully prepare myself as you would in a normal year."