There hasn’t been a setback in Bridgewater’s recovery, and there’s no lingering nerve damage. But if the Vikings did pick up the option, Bridgewater’s entire 2018 salary wold be guaranteed, and the team isn’t willing to risk it.
The current CBA provides for four-year rookie contracts for first-round picks, with a fifth-year option that can be exercised by teams. That option guarantees the player’s entire salary in the event that injury keeps him off the field in that fifth season. That’s the sticking point for the Vikings with Bridgewater.
Prior to the 2016 season, Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury. He’s still working his way back from the torn ACL and dislocated knee, and it’s unclear at this point whether he’ll be ready to take the field next season. Minnesota traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford just before the 2016 season began, and Bradford is under contract in Minnesota through 2017.
"The injury guarantee makes it tough to do," a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter about the Vikings’ decision.
This doesn’t suggest that the Vikings are considering moving on from Bridgewater. Minnesota has plenty of time to work out an extension with Bridgewater, or the team could re-sign him after his contract is up after this season.
But the Vikings can pursue either of those options after they have a better idea of his timetable for a full recovery. This decision will keep Minnesota from being on the hook for more than $11 million if Bridgewater is unable play in 2018.