Drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Teddy Bridgewater profiled as a franchise quarterback for the QB-needy Vikings. In the aftermath of a career-altering injury, he barely saw the field for the better part of four years. But through it all, he remains an intriguing QB who could still help teams, even as a starter. As a free agent heading into the 2022 campaign, let’s take a look at Bridgewater’s potential landing spots by offering predictions for where he could end up this offseason.
Top predictions for free agent Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is better than his detractors claim, but he also hasn’t demonstrated the growth normally reserved for highly talented prospects. He’s been entirely adequate on the field, and at times, he’s been excellent.
The problem, of course, is that in the NFL, “adequate” doesn’t cut it for very long. With only 33 touchdown passes in 29 starts these past two seasons, Bridgewater has served more as a game manager than a momentum driver. While leading the Saints to a 5-0 record in 2019, his skill set lined up quite well. But on non-playoff teams like Carolina and Denver, he was unable to elevate the offense.
In the aftermath of the Panthers handing Bridgewater $40 million guaranteed in 2020, I wrote, “That’s a nice payday for a guy whose greatest claim is throwing to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.” Gentle sarcasm aside, the truth holds — in the NFL, context is everything. Bridgewater looked like a valued NFL starter playing with an elite running back and elite wideout in a somewhat-pass-friendly offense that saw him throw 33 times a game, including to a far more active pass-catching backfield than what he saw in Carolina and Denver.
So, the question is whether Bridgewater winds up a game manager in a run-heavy scheme or a glorified game manager in a pass-friendly scheme. In the latter scenario, he could still be a top-24 NFL quarterback. Here are some landing spots that could work for both Bridgewater and the team that signs him.
San Francisco 49ers
Are the Niners fully sold on Trey Lance in 2022? As a football fan, I hope so, since Lance is an electric player with massive potential in this league. And with continued buzz that the team could move Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance starting Week 1 seems as possible as ever.
But they’ll still need a veteran in case Lance isn’t quite ready or as a fall-back option for a team that still has (justifiably so) Super Bowl aspirations. With a strong backfield, an elite wideout (who’s also incredibly skilled as a rusher), a near-elite tight end, and an up-and-coming No. 2 receiver, Bridgewater could be a fairly cheap backup option who could step in if needed.
New York Giants
If 2022 is a repeat of 2021 — if Daniel Jones gets hurt or the Giants simply decide to move on — then Bridgewater could be a long-term bridge for a franchise that’s several years away from realistic title hopes. Presumably, the team would secure a quarterback of the future in one of the next two drafts. In the meantime, Bridgewater could start if needed.
Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney aren’t going anywhere. And if Saquon Barkley’s days in New York are numbered, this could become a very pass-friendly offense in a hurry. Bridgewater could revive his career in one of the most unlikely environments — a dysfunctional Giants offense trying to get back to their glory days.
Las Vegas Raiders
Not ideal for Bridgewater’s playing potential, but perhaps ideal for both sides if they’re looking ahead to 2023. Derek Carr has one more year on his contract. After the Russell Wilson trade, the Raiders now find themselves in one of the least enviable situations for a franchise in a long time — sharing a division with three generationally talented quarterbacks (Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Herbert).
Not that Vegas will throw in the towel, but if Carr isn’t the right fit for the long haul — if he’s not the answer for a franchise seeking a leg up in a highly competitive division — then they might not want to pay him for another 4-5 more years, opting instead to start over with the draft. That would set up Bridgewater as a short-term starter or veteran backup for a rookie in 2023.