Everyone loves Teddy. But despite outplaying third-overall draft pick Sam Darnold in the first two preseason games, there has been relative silence about Teddy Bridgewater. This is not necessarily a mistake or wrong on the Jets’ part, since there’s a lot invested in Darnold and his perceived ceiling is higher, while Josh McCown is the better and more willing mentor for the rookie. However, Teddy’s recent success should not be overlooked by others around the league.
Ugh…let’s keep this short. Coming off the successful 2015 season, in which Bridgewater led the Vikings to their first NFC North title since 2009, there were high expectations for the third-year quarterback. Unfortunately, a non-contact knee injury in August cost him the season. The gruesome injury resulted in a 19-month recovery. With his playing future in jeopardy, he continued to fight just to get back on the field. The Vikings did let him play a few snaps at the end of last season simply out of respect, but they ultimately decided to go in a different direction at quarterback this season.
Signed by the Jets
With a need at the quarterback position, the Jets reached a deal with Teddy Bridgewater in March. With no shortage of question marks around Bridgewater’s knee, the Jets gave him a one-year contract with a base value of $6 million. The contract only guaranteed a $500,000 signing bonus, but through a number of incentives linked to on-field performance, the deal could be worth up to $15 million. The Jets told Teddy that they viewed him as a number one quarterback going forward, which is why he picked New York over other offers.
The Jets switched course on Bridgewater being their top quarterback for the future. A little over a month after signing Teddy to a deal, the Jets drafted quarterback Sam Darnold with the third overall pick. This was expected, since the Jets traded up to get that pick a couple weeks before grabbing Bridgewater from free agency. Quickly, Teddy’s future in New York looked questionable at best, and he knew he must play well as an “audition” for other teams.
Teddy Bridgewater has now played two preseason games in a Jets uniform. While it’s important to note the level of competition he’s faced, he’s been terrific in his two performances. Combined, he’s hit on 17-of-23 throws for 212 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. This comes to 9.2 passing yards per attempt, which is a stat that should be utilized more often, in my opinion. His competition, Sam Darnold, has passed 21-29 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, good for 5.4 yards per attempt. In his first two games, Darnold has shown some bright flashes, but he continues to hold the ball too long and doesn’t throw receivers open. Rather, he waits until he sees them open to let it go, which also goes along with holding it too long. This was a criticism I expressed of Darnold before the draft, and it’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been addressed yet.
By comparing the two Jets quarterbacks, I am not trying to say Bridgewater is good and Darnold is bad. Rather, my point is that one player has performed a bit better, and the other has received nearly all the media praise. The future for both players seems bright. And while Teddy is considered a veteran at this point, he is just four years older than the rookie. There is a long future ahead for Teddy Bridgewater, and he has just scratched the surface of his potential.
While Teddy has certainly proved to be good enough to make an NFL roster this season, rostering three quarterbacks in week 1 only makes sense for the Jets if they continually look to shop him.
Possible Landing Spots
Bridgewater could stay in the AFC East and join a team that doesn’t have talent at the backup position, but does have questions with their starter. Coming off of a knee injury of his own, Tannehill is in a “prove it” year. If he and the Dolphins struggle, it could mean the end of both Tannehill and coach Adam Gase’s time in Miami. Since Teddy is both young and talented, having a second guy with potential could be a smart move. Bridgewater is also from Miami, so this landing spot could interest him for many reasons. The downside for the Jets is that he stays in the division.
Could Bridgewater find himself behind Case Keenum yet again? Possibly. Despite Keenum’s terrific campaign with the Vikings, there still isn’t full confidence in him as the answer long term. It’s also no secret that the Broncos could use a quality backup. Bridgewater could fill the need as the backup, and being five years younger than Keenum, possibly he’s the long term answer John Elway has been looking for.
New York Giants
It’s not often you get to stay put AND switch teams. After deciding to pass on taking a quarterback with the second overall pick, the Giants could still invest long term at the position by bringing in Bridgewater. New head coach Pat Shurmur was in Minnesota the past couple seasons with Teddy, so he should have a pretty good idea of what he’s capable of.
New England Patriots
Much like the Dolphins, this requires the Jets to keep him in the division, something I’m not sure they’re willing to do. However, the Patriots have a stockpile of 2019 draft picks, and the Jets do not have a second-round pick, due to the trade in which they moved up to grab Darnold. The Jets are trying to rebuild, and draft picks are something they’ll want plenty of. For the Patriots, they get a smart, young, efficient passer to sit behind Brady and learn the system. The quarterback of the future that fit this description was supposed to be Jimmy G, but he didn’t want to wait on the sideline much longer. Teddy strikes me as someone who would be accepting of this role, knowing his time would be coming soon enough.
This move would reunite Teddy with his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach from the successful Vikings 2015 season, Norv and Scott Turner. Obviously there isn’t a competition for the starting job in Carolina, but maybe Bridgewater usurps Derek Anderson to become the primary backup. With the way Cam plays, he could get banged up at any point, and Teddy could be given a chance.