Miami Called and Bridgewater Refused to Answer
In one of the more odd offseason stories, Teddy Bridgewater turned down a starting quarterback job to remain a backup. That’s right. Bridgewater met with the Miami Dolphins, a team that just traded away Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans, and walked away from their offer. The move (or non-move) has left many football fans perplexed. However, Bridgewater’s decision to remain the backup to Drew Brees is one of the most intelligent choices. Here’s why:
Low Injury Risk
The gap between Miami and New Orleans is immense. According to footballoutsiders, Miami’s offensive line ranked 31st in pass protection. They gave up 52 sacks in 2018. On the other hand, New Orleans ranked 3rd in pass protection and only gave up 20 sacks in 2018. Considering that Bridgewater has already had a serious knee-injury in his young career, the decision to avoid Miami’s porous offensive line is safe.
Money Money Money
While Bridgewater turned down a starting job, he didn’t refuse Nick Foles level money.
Per Dianna Russini of ESPN, Bridgewater desired “life-changing money” to sign with Miami. Bridgewater sought 16-million dollars per year plus incentives. He wanted money and guarantees that he the team invested in him as the starter. Miami was not willing to pay-up for Bridgewater, so he decided to punt his contract another year.
Instead of signing with Miami for a middling contract, Bridgewater accepted a premium-contract for a backup quarterback. The one-year deal includes 7.5 million dollars, fully guaranteed, plus incentives. Bridgewater is taking a moderate discount to play for the Saints and still keep his opportunity available for a big contract in 2020.
The Quarterback Market in 2020
In addition to his current situation is the overall market for quarterbacks. There were not a significant amount of NFL teams searching for veteran quarterbacks this offseason. Considering Foles, Keenum, and Flacco already have new homes and the NFL draft is near, there were few suitors left for Bridgewater. Less suitors can easily translate to less money invested. But, in 2020, here are some notable free agents:
- Russell Wilson
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Eli Manning
- Phillip Rivers
- Tom Brady
- Jameis Winston
- Marcus Mariota
- Case Keenum
Roethlisberger, Manning, Rivers and Brady are over 37 years old. There is a significant chance they might retire, due to injury or diminished performance. Winston, Mariota and Keenum also each carry a chance of being traded or cut. They have not stood out enough to earn a franchise-quarterback status. So, by pushing his free agency to 2020, Bridgewater will be entering a potentially rich market for quarterbacks.
Tutelage Under Drew Brees and Sean Payton
In staying another year with the New Orleans Saints, Bridgewater gets more time with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees Sean Payton. Instead of going to the Miami Dolphins, a franchise that has been in turmoil for years, he gets to surround himself by positive influences and success. New Orleans has consistently been a top NFL offense in both points and yards. Sean Payton has been regarded as one of the most creative offensive minds in the NFL. In backing up Brees another year, Bridgewater will effectively be attending an Elite NFL University.
Drew Brees is 40 Years Old
Although Drew Brees has continued to perform at an elite level, we cannot ignore his age. He is 40 years old. Each year he risks dips in production, injury and retirement. In remaining the backup for Brees, Bridgewater is giving himself a great chance to play for a successful franchise. Remember that the NFL is incredibly random. On any given Sunday something could happen. If Brees is injured or simply loses his gift, Bridgewater will be there. Waiting for his opportunity. If misfortune falls on Drew Brees this season, if he retires before 2020 or if the Saints choose to not sign a 42-year-old quarterback to another contract in 2021, Bridgewater could be the Saints next franchise quarterback.
Bridgewater is Only 26 Years Old
Teddy Bridgewater is so young. If he is smart, his career could extend another decade. Many quarterbacks are playing well into their 30’s or even 40’s now. After the 2019 season, Bridgewater will still only be 27. Capable starting quarterbacks are difficult to find. Washington found this quite apparent last season. After Alex Smith broke his leg in week 11, Washington started a combination of Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson. Granted Washington could have signed Colin Kaepernick to their team, but we’ve already discussed that. Bottom line is that if Josh Johnson can get a starting job, even a temporary one, after not attempting an NFL pass in seven seasons, Bridgewater should certainly be able to secure a contract in the coming years.
The Nick Foles Hero’s Journey
Nick Foles has paved the way for Bridgewater’s success. Foles initially showed promise in Philadelphia, passing for 27 touchdowns and 2891 yards in 2013. However, he fell into obscurity after suffering a broken collarbone in the 2014 season. The Eagles traded him to the St. Louis Rams, then was benched for Case Keenum. In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams drafted Jared Goff with the first overall draft pick and Foles was released. It appeared that Foles was destined to be a backup quarterback for his career, so obviously he signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs to play behind Alex Smith in 2016.
Then, in 2017, Foles held a lottery-winning ticket. Carson Wentz tore his ACL in week 14 and Foles led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl winning season. After another year of play, and additional games started due to Wentz missing more time, Foles landed a monster contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though the Eagles announced they would pick up Foles’ 20-million dollar option for the 2019 season, Foles refused it for a four-year contract worth 88-million dollars.
So why did this work for Nick Foles and could it work for Teddy Bridgewater? It worked because Foles put himself into the best situations. The Philadelphia Eagles had impressive coaching, offensive line play, offensive weapons, and a powerful defense. By random chance, Foles started for a playoff bound team and ended up becoming a Super Bowl MVP. Similarly, the New Orleans Saints are an elite NFL franchise that also has impressive coaching, offensive line play, offensive weapons and an improving defense. If Brees should fall, Bridgewater could see himself following the Foles path to playoffs and a subsequent four-year, 88-million dollar contract.
The Brilliance of Bridgewater
Although many will question and criticize Bridgewater’s stint with the New Orleans Saints, it is nonetheless a very intelligent decision. Bridgewater is young, playing behind a 40-year old quarterback in one of the league’s best offenses. He is surrounded by positive play, coaching and management.
“I was able to be a part of that last year for 18 weeks, and it was nothing but a positive thing,” Bridgewater said. “I told my agent every time that I’ve talked to him that I haven’t stopped smiling since I arrived. There’s so many positives in New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to many days ahead.”“Teddy Bridewater: Saints a better situation for me” by Kevin Patra
There are so many pros for Bridgewater’s choice to remain a Saint. He is ensuring himself opportunity to take over for the Saints. In 2020, he enters a more lucrative quarterback market. Avoiding Miami also substantially lowers his risk of injury or poor play sparked by a mismanaged and untalented team. All the while, Bridgewater still makes 7.5-million dollars guaranteed with a chance to start for a playoff-caliber team if Drew Brees is injured. This is without a doubt one of the better decisions of the 2019 NFL offseason. Good for Teddy.