For several days following a report that Teddy Bridgewater would sign with the New York Jets, there was radio silence from both the player and the team.
When ProFootball Talk posted an article questioning why nobody had said boo, the team quickly announced the deal and it was reported that Bridgewater passed his physical.
The details of Bridgewater’s deal came out in short order. While he has the opportunity to earn much more, the 25-year-old quarterback is only guaranteed $500,000 this year with the Jets – a stunningly low amount, even for a player with serious injury concerns. Sam Bradford, in comparison, received $15 million in guarantees after missing all but two games of 2017 with a knee injury – the third of his career.
In a conference call with the New York area media, Bridgewater, who spent 10 weeks as the Vikings’ backup quarterback last year, avoided a question about whether he would be a full-go for offseason activities.
“That’s not something I’m comfortable talking about right now,” he said, per ESPN. “I’m pretty sure that will be a discussion I have with the training staff and we’ll come up with a plan moving forward.”
“I’m very confident in myself,” Bridgewater said. “I’m confident in the athletic training staff and the coaching staff that they can get me back to the player that I once was. But at the same time, we’re only in March and the only way to get better is to put the work in now. I’m excited about this opportunity I have. … I can’t wait. I’m excited.”
Bridgewater didn’t just suffer a routine knee injury in early 2016, he went through a catastrophic injury that could have caused him to lose his leg. At his end-of-season press conference, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer alluded to the odds that were stacked against the former Louisville quarterback to ever play again.
“Quite honestly, for him to get on the field is an unbelievable achievement,” Zimmer said. “When this injury happened, I can go through it, we researched this injury. There was 24 of these similar types of injuries through all sports, half of them never came back. I think the earliest one that anybody ever came back was 24 months. So, for him to even get to that point to where he was, and be able to come out and practice and compete, get in a game, was a true credit to him. Would I have liked to see him more on the field? Yeah.”
Bridgewater only appeared in one game and threw two passes in Week 15 blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals. In the playoffs, Zimmer looked to Bradford as his backup.
While it seemed at times throughout the season that Zimmer was at least considering turning the ball over to Bridgewater, everything that has happened since the end of the regular season – especially the Vikings signing Kirk Cousins rather than keeping Bridgewater – make it fair to wonder about his ability to play again.
The Jets showed little confidence in his status by also signing Josh McCown to a one-year, $10 million deal and trading up in the draft, presumably to take a quarterback.
More likely than not Bridgewater will have to beat out last year’s QB and a rookie top draft pick in order to see playing time in The Big Apple.
Since his signing, there surprisingly hasn’t been a word from Bridgewater about the Minnesota Vikings, the team that traded up to draft him in 2014 and that he led to a 11-5 season and division title in 2015. Normally Bridgewater is active on social media. Former Vikings receiver Jarius Wright thanked his former team within 48 hours of signing with Carolina.
Putting together the pieces, we are left with plenty of questions. Did the Vikings know that his chances of returning to 2015 Teddy were low when they decided to move on to Cousins? Does Bridgewater feel bitter or misled by the Vikings? Will they Jets give him a legitimate chance at winning the starting job or are they simply taking a long shot at a low price? Or could they even trade Bridgewater if someone else’s quarterback goes down?
Only the Vikings know how Bridgewater looked in practice and only the Vikings and Jets know whether his medical reports indicate a full recovery is possible. Only time will tell us if he can beat the odds and win the Jets’ job.