Even though the Vikings didn’t pick up the final year of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie contract, he may still be under contract in 2018.
By not exercising the option that would extend the deal from four years to five, the Vikings allow Bridgewater to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. But there’s a catch, hiding in plain sight.
Says Article 20, Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement: “Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (‘PUP’) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.” (Emphasis added.)
Contrary to a report that Bridgewater would have to miss the whole season to have his contract tolled, this means that the contract will toll only if the player is on the PUP list as of the sixth regular-season game. Which also means, as a practical matter, that if he’s still on PUP when the regular season begins, the contract will toll.
Players on the PUP list as of Week One must spend six weeks there. Since the Vikings’ by happens in Week Nine this year, Bridgewater would miss six games if he’s on PUP to start the season.
If the Vikings had picked up the option, tolling couldn’t have happened because Bridgewater wouldn’t have been in the last year of his deal. By not picking up the option, the highlighted sentence of Article 20, Section 2 becomes highly relevant.
On Friday’s PFT Live, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman was asked whether the contract could toll based on Article 20, Section 2. He provided an evasive answer that nevertheless said everything he needed to say.
“We know the rule very well,” Spielman said. “We’ve talked to the Management Council, we understand everything that’s involved with it, but again it’s something from a contractual standpoint that I’d rather not comment on. But there are specific rules there, and we’re quite aware of what the rules are.”
Here’s what they know: If Bridgewater won’t be able to exit the PUP list by the sixth game of the regular season, he’ll be a Viking in 2018, at the same $1.354 million he’ll earn in 2017.