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Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery from injury could push his contract into 2018

If Teddy Bridgewater is on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season, the Vikings retain his rights without using the fifth-year option.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings opted not to pick up the fifth-year option on Teddy Bridgewater’s contract, making him set to reach free agency in 2018. But his slow recovery from a devastating knee injury suffered in August could mean that his contract with the Vikings gets pushed into 2018 anyway.

Bridgewater was informed the Vikings would not pick up his contract option, and the injury was likely the reason for the decision. The salary that would have been due to Bridgewater would’ve only been guaranteed in the case of an injury, making it very possible the Vikings would lock themselves into paying a player who is still recovering from his injury.

But according to the collective bargaining agreement, Bridgewater’s contract will be tolled one year if he is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of the 2017 season.

While it has been more than eight months since Bridgewater suffered the injury just before the beginning of the 2016 regular season, it still looks possible that he won’t be ready to return any time soon.

Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee, and the Vikings have been vague about the progress of his recovery. The quarterback posted video of himself throwing and coach Mike Zimmer has spoken optimistically about the recovery, but general manager Rick Spielman has admitted he’s not 100 percent certain Bridgewater will be back in time to play in 2017.

With Bridgewater sidelined, Minnesota traded a first-round pick for Sam Bradford who completed a league-best 71.6 percent of his passes for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions.

Bradford is due $17 million in 2017 — the final year of his contract with the Vikings. The team has spoken highly of his performance in 2016, but hasn’t spoken much about a potential extension with the quarterback, leaving the Vikings with the possibility of both quarterbacks reaching free agency in 2018.