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Teddy Bridgewater gets traded from Jets to Saints. Is he Drew Brees’ eventual replacement?

Bridgewater will try to reclaim his franchise QB status with the Saints.

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Teddy Bridgewater’s road back to an NFL starting position just took another detour. The New Orleans Saints acquired the former Pro Bowl quarterback Wednesday, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, freeing him from a crowded depth chart with the New York Jets.

The Jets also sent a 2019 sixth-round pick to New Orleans and in return received a third-round pick.

The Jets have a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, and reportedly told Bridgewater of the trade on the way there.

The move takes pressure off Bridgewater and his surgically repaired leg. The 2015 Pro Bowler has thrown only two passes the past two seasons thanks to a dislocated knee that nearly ended his career in 2016. He’d emerged as one of the league’s promising young passers in the two years before the traumatic injury, however — and the Saints are hoping he can continue that arc now that he’s ostensibly healthy again.

What does this mean for Teddy Bridgewater?

Bridgewater’s career was in question after sustaining a horrific knee injury that cost him the entire 2016 season and the bulk of 2017. The 2014 first-round pick emerged as an efficient passer in his first two seasons with the Vikings, leading Minnesota to an NFC North title and completing more than 65 percent of his passes. While he still had his flaws — he threw for a meager 7.2 yards per pass and tossed just 14 touchdowns — he was a young quarterback on the rise when he entered training camp in 2016.

Then, a dislocated knee threatened to end his career. While he’d return from injury midway through the 2017 season, his claim to the starting role in Minneapolis had been usurped; first by Sam Bradford and then by Case Keenum. He’d appear in just one game after being restored to the active roster in Week 10, throwing a pair of garbage time passes in a win over the Bengals.

Bradford and Keenum each thrived with the Vikings, which throws Bridgewater’s credentials into doubt. While he was solid as an emerging QB, he wasn’t particularly great, opting for shorter passes in a relatively conservative passing scheme. But he also didn’t have the weapons Keenum did last fall — Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were on the roster, but not yet evolved to their Pro Bowl forms — and still had plenty of room to grow after just 28 starts in the NFL.

He’ll have the chance to prove himself as a viable starter now with the Saints, although he’ll have time on a team that probably won’t need him to play any time soon.

What does this mean for the Saints?

With only Tom Savage, J.T. Barrett, and Taysom Hill on the depth chart behind Drew Brees, the Saints didn’t have a clear incumbent to take the reins from Brees, who turns 40 in January. They may have it now with the 25-year-old Bridgewater.

It’d be surprising if the Saints traded a draft pick away for a quarterback they don’t plan to sign to a contract that keeps him in New Orleans beyond the 2018 season — especially since they don’t have a first-round pick next year. And if Bridgewater can continue the trajectory he showed during preseason in New York, they may have just landed their quarterback of the future.

In three preseason games, Bridgewater completed 28 of 38 passes for 316 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. There was no sign that his knee injury was a problem.

Acquiring Bridgewater won’t mean much for the 2018 season unless Brees goes down with an injury, but the Saints clearly need a young passer to eventually take over and the former Vikings passer fits the bill.

What does this mean for the Jets?

Bridgewater was an inexpensive insurance policy for the 2018 season, and an important one. The Jets signed Bridgewater in March without knowing whether they’d be able to find their quarterback of the future in the draft or whether Josh McCown’s 2017 revival would be sustainable at age 39 this fall.

Then, a trade up to No. 3 made Sam Darnold a Jet, and solid performances in training camp from both the rookie and the veteran made Bridgewater a luxury. Darnold will be the starter, while McCown will look to replicate last year’s proficiency and serve as Darnold’s mentor.

The rookie will attempt to capitalize on the prodigious gifts that made him one of the NCAA’s most talented passers, even if those skills failed to pan out on a consistent basis at USC.

And if New York needs an emergency quarterback to step him for McCown and Darnold, 2018 wide receiver signee Terrelle Pryor has 311 NFL pass attempts under his belt.