Former Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, incurred career-changing news earlier this week. The New York Jets shipped a 23-year-old Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a 6th-Round pick this year and two 2022 draft picks – a 2nd and 4th Rounder. The Panthers are expected to pounce on Darnold’s fifth-year contractual option for 2022, so the former Jet will lead Matt Rhule’s team for at least two seasons.
Bridgewater will not start for the Carolina Panthers in 2021 – and he likely won’t start anywhere.
Per a report from ProFootballRumors.com and Ian Rapaport:
“Multiple teams are interested in trading for Bridgewater. Those clubs are looking at Bridgewater as a top-flight backup and mentor for a younger passer already on (or soon to be on) the roster. Bridgewater, of course, will need to rework his contract to facilitate a deal, and Rapoport — who expects a trade to happen — says the 28-year-old passer could reduce his 2021 pay to a fully-guaranteed $10MM.”
Now the discussion moves to where Bridgewater might resume his career as the Panthers are exploring divorce.
Back to 2019 Status for Teddy
This is familiar territory from the 28-year-old Bridgewater. He’s started 2.5 seasons of an “available” seven years. In 2016, Bridgewater suffered a catastrophic knee injury that threatened his career [and some say his life]. The full-circle battle back took about four years, landing a starting gig with the Panthers in 2020.
Before that, Bridgewater owned “one of the best backups in the league” recognition behind Drew Brees in New Orleans. He posted a 5-0 record in relief duty for Brees in 2019 – the season that the Vikings jettisoned the Saints from the postseason. Well, one of them anyway.
That scintillating undefeated streak landed him the starting job in Carolina. But it lasted just one season. Bridgewater was flat-out underwhelming. He dimed 15 touchdown passes in 15 starts while his team finished 5-11. That will not cut it in the contemporary NFL.
So – onward for the Louisville alumnus.
No Starting QBs Required
All NFL teams have a plan at quarterback for 2020 as of early April. Some teams have goofy plans (see: Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team), and some have sure-fire arrangements like the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. Others (New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars) will seek the draft in three weeks for remedy.
Thus, Bridgewater is headed back to the QB2 cosmos. His opportunity in Carolina was supposed to be a springboard toward career redemption, but that path has detoured, at least temporarily.
The optimistic mindset: Because of his calm demeanor and starting experience, his addition to any NFL depth chart will plop him into top-tier QB2 consideration. Interestingly, another former Viking – Case Keenum – is a part of this club, too.
That will be the way of it for Bridgewater – indefinitely. The pandemic season proved he is not quite good enough to start unless the franchise is a bottom-five-or-so caliber place.
And now – the meaty stuff. Where should he go?
Oodles of destinations make sense. The boss of the Denver Broncos, George Paton, has serious ties to Bridgewater from Paton’s time with the Vikings. Drew Lock could use some healthy competition. Bridgewater is a lovable vendor of that.
If the Saints are still aroused by his potential, well, that team could play hopscotch at the quarterback spot with Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, and Bridgewater. The 2019 Saints were tailor-made for Teddy.
Tom Brady won’t play forever in Tampa Bay, although he is trending that way. Using Bridgewater at QB2 adds up because, at Brady’s extremely advanced football age, he is more prone to injury. Bridgewater’s 2019 mini-magic is a formidable job-resume piece to exalt for a Buccaneers marriage.
And then there’s the Vikings. The split of Bridgewater from Minnesota will never be universally accepted. Various fans preferred a Bridgewater extension instead of signing current quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Hell, some Vikings loyalists still have fairy-tale aspirations that a practice squad passer, Kyle Sloter, was the one that got away.
Sloter has never played a single snap of regular-season football.
Bridgewater’s price tag is sure to diminish. Should it fall all the way to the bottom of the barrel like a Mackensie Alexander, then the Vikings could explore tapping Bridgewater for their backup QB duty. He’d be an instant upgrade from Sean Mannion, who was the reservist signal-caller in 2019 and 2020. Yes, the guy that has never thrown a touchdown pass in his five-year career.
In all likelihood, Minnesota won’t need any backup quarterbacks. Cousins has never missed a professional football game due to injury.