Teddy Bridgewater is arguably the most fascinating name among all free agents this year. Bridgewater is a former first-round quarterback with playoff experience — and he’s just 26 years old. Those types of quarterbacks don’t typically hit the free agent market.
If your team is one of the few that needs a starting quarterback this offseason, and it isn’t a fan of the upcoming draft class, Bridgewater makes sense as an option.
Of course, the caveat with Bridgewater is the horrible knee injury that he suffered right before the start of the 2016 season. He missed all of 2016 and returned in the middle of the 2017 season, but he threw just two passes in relief of Case Keenum that year. After the 2017 season, Bridgewater hit free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Jets.
He put together a productive preseason, to the point that people were suggesting he start in place of Sam Darnold, the Jets’ first-round pick that spring. He had a lot of plays that looked like vintage Bridgewater.
Teddy Bridgewater avoids the rush and converts the first down pic.twitter.com/yu3fzKbmeS— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) August 17, 2018
There are still questions regarding the long-term viability of Bridgewater. He’s thrown just 25 passes in the past three years, but he’s an intriguing prospect who might have some value as a starter in 2019. Bridgewater could be a hot commodity now that Joe Flacco is off the market, and Nick Foles is the last “big” free agent at quarterback.
Here are five teams to keep an eye on for Bridgewater’s services when the new league year begins on March 13.
New Orleans Saints
One option for Bridgewater would be to return to the Saints. If Bridgewater walks in free agency, then the Saints wouldn’t really have a legitimate backup quarterback on their roster. Taysom Hill has been a fun offensive weapon for the Saints over the past two seasons, but if they really valued his ability as a quarterback, they wouldn’t put him on kickoff and punt returns.
New Orleans needs to start looking for a Brees replacement as well. Brees just turned 40 years old and started to look it after the Saints’ Thanksgiving game against the Falcons. In Brees’ final four games of the regular season, he threw just three touchdowns to three interceptions and averaged only 214.3 yards per game.
The biggest problem with a Bridgewater reunion would be the amount of money he’s owed. It’s not that Bridgewater would break the bank with a new contract; it’s more that the Saints are a bit cash-strapped right now.
New Orleans is currently projected to have just $11.3 million in cap space — even a backup quarterback contract would put a dent in that. Last year, the Saints had to get a little creative with Bridgewater’s deal to make sure they still had enough space in case they needed to sign free agents during the season.
Brees, whose current cap hit is a massive $33.5 million, might have to rework his contract again to free up some immediate cap space for the team. If the Saints can work some magic, bringing back Bridgewater for another year could be beneficial to both sides.
The Jaguars’ quarterback situation is a hot mess. They appear ready to move on from Blake Bortles and his comically bad contract that comes with $16.5 million of dead cap if (or when) he’s cut. Even if they release Bortles, the Jaguars will still have negative cap space to work with for the 2019 season — though they have some obvious cut candidates on the team.
Nick Foles would probably make the most sense as a bridge quarterback given his ties to newly hired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who was the Eagles’ quarterback coach during their Super Bowl run. There are also reports that say Foles will sign with Jacksonville right when the new league year begins.
If that doesn’t happen, then bringing Bridgewater in as a stabilizing force would make sense. Jacksonville could rebuild its quarterback room with Bridgewater and a high first-round pick — the team is still showing some interest in Bridgewater:
Cincinnati is a team to keep an eye on during the offseason’s quarterback carousel. The Bengals hired Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor as their head coach, and he might want to put his own mark on the quarterback room. The Bengals moving on from Andy Dalton wouldn’t give them any dead cap, so it’s easy to see a situation where Taylor would want to bring in his own guys.
The only other quarterback under contract is backup Jeff Driskel, who ended up starting five games for the Bengals when Dalton was injured. Cincinnati went 1-4 with Driskel as the starter, and he only threw for 5.5 yards per attempt in those five games. That mark was even worse than Josh Rosen’s 5.8 yards per attempt, which was the lowest in the league among qualified passers.
Bridgewater could be a nice veteran fit for the Bengals if they part with Dalton and don’t want to spend the draft capital to move up and select a rookie quarterback.
Cincinnati’s offense isn’t completely bereft of talent, either. A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon will be returning to the offense. If Taylor is a decent playcaller for the Bengals, this is an offense that should be able to stay afloat and not be a complete disaster with competent quarterback play.
The Giants are in a transitioning phase at the quarterback position. Eli Manning, whose agent expects him to be back with the team, just turned 38 years old and obviously isn’t the future in New York anymore.
Bridgewater might not be the long-term answer either, but he could be worth the dice roll for New York. The Giants already have an elite skill position duo with Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley and can’t really afford to waste seasons of their prime. Bridgewater may not be THE answer that the Giants are looking for, but a different body at quarterback might be what the Giants need.
In the scenario where the Giants do sign Bridgewater, they would likely move on from Manning. Cutting Manning would free up about $17 million in cap space for the Giants to use in free agency.
The Giants are expected to draft a quarterback in the first round, whether they stay at No. 6 in the order or move up. Bridgewater could be a cheaper and younger bridge quarterback than Manning for the Giants, who wouldn’t have to start a rookie right away.