Teddy Bridgewater’s status remains murky, unresolved

Getty Images

No one has been reporting anything about the free-agency status of Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Primarily because there’s nothing to report. Primarily because no one is saying anything about it.

Here’s the issue: The Collective Bargaining Agreement plainly states that, when a player in the final year of his contract is physically unable to perform as of the sixth game of the season, the contract tolls for a year. This language applies to Bridgewater, who tore an ACL in August 2016, missed all of that season on injured reserve, and then missed the first six games of 2017 while on the PUP list.

If tolling applies, Bridgewater will be under contract for 2018, at the same $1.3 million salary he received in 2017.

In the days prior to the Super Bowl, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman characterized the issue as a league matter, and for good reason. The Vikings don’t want to be perceived, by their fans or their players, as sticking it to Bridgewater, who remains universally beloved in and out of the locker room.

When asked recently a general question about the procedures and protocols that would be utilized to toll the contract and then to challenge it (which is what Bridgewater would do), NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said this: “Will let you know when we have something.”

From the union’s perspective, there’s also no real clarity, primarily because there’s no clear procedure for dealing with a situation that rarely arises. It’s possible that the NFL/Vikings could sit on the issue until the end of the league year, announce that the contract has tolled, and force Bridgewater to launch the process of fighting the issue as the market for his services otherwise opens.

Absent an effort by the NFL Players Association or Bridgewater to force the issue (which hasn’t started yet), the cloud will linger over Bridgewater’s looming free agency until the team or the league make a move.

The current thinking is that the team and the league likely won’t do it. Apart from a threshold argument that past precedent makes tolling applicable only if the player misses the entire season (despite what the CBA says), Bridgewater and the NFLPA probably would attempt to show that Bridgewater was healthy enough to be cleared to play as of Week One, making his placement on the PUP list at the opening of the season improper.

If that sounds familiar, it should. Last week, an arbitrator found that the Bengals improperly placed quarterback A.J. McCarron on the non-football injury list as of Week One of the 2014 season, clearing his path to unrestricted free agency. The league, which rarely loses legal matters, may not have the appetite to risk losing another one so quickly, especially if there’s any doubt regarding the manner in which an arbitrator would view the documents and testimony of the doctor who decided not to clear Bridgewater, allowing them to essentially stash him while carrying only Sam Bradford and Case Keenum on the 53-man roster to start the season.

Currently, Bradford and Keenum are due to become unrestricted free agents. Whether Bridgewater joins them may be determined not by any specific action, but by inaction that lingers for the next 18 days.

49 responses to “Teddy Bridgewater’s status remains murky, unresolved

  1. What a mess. How can the Vikings get started developing their newly discovered epiphany; “Offense wins championships,” without a quarterback?

  2. So, essentially, any player going into the final year of their contract (“contract year”), whom begins the regular season on PUP, will lose the year (“the contract tolls for a year”) because they automatically have to sit the first six games? I’m surprised more teams haven’t tried to take advantage of this team friendly situation (albeit, risking reputation & image w other players and fans). But, a player could, in theory, sit out claiming injury to maintain as much good health as possible while approaching their chance at FA. Everyone has to watch everyone but the league seems to typically have the advantage.

  3. Not sure why Bridgewater would really challenge it to become a free agent, he should just try to win the starting job and lead a great team to the super bowl, then he can cash in big time.

  4. Why is anyone worried about his status? He shouldn’t be the starter in MN anyway, if it tolls he’s a lucky backup to a good team. He shouldn’t/wouldn’t garner much attention on the free agent market.

  5. Sounds like a situation ripe for compromise with Bridgewater getting a substantial bump in salary for 2018 ($12 million) with the team able to walk away after one year if he cannot perform in 2018. If he does perform he will be paid as a starter for 2019 – 2022 with an appropriate bonus to make up for the below average salary in 2018. The team will have avoided the $19 million for a fifth year option (see Bortles); Bridgewater will have the opportunity to prove himself and the tolling issue will never arise. Oh and by the way, the Vikings will have a QB.

  6. I just don’t get the fan fair over Bridgewater he wasn’t
    that great to begin with and now he is damaged goods
    no other teams wants him and the Vikings should be trying to get
    him out of the building before he’s hurt again.

  7. Doesn’t this come down to the age old problem that neither side, the NFL or NFLPA wants to give anything without getting anything in return? The owners should want the contract to toll. The NFLPA should want the player to hit FA.

    I can’t believe this has never happened before. I also don’t understand how this made it in the CBA but neither side apparently really understood the repercussions or how to interpret the rule. It’s a pretty signicant statement that apparently went overlooked until now.

  8. As a Vikings fan, I think Teddy is arguably the most overrated QB we’ve ever had. Yes, the guys love him in the locker room. But he’s merely average at QB so if his contract tolls, he can backup Cousins or Keenum, if it doesn’t I wish him the best on his next team…

  9. deneb1973 says:
    February 24, 2018 at 11:23 am
    Sounds like a situation ripe for compromise with Bridgewater getting a substantial bump in salary for 2018 ($12 million)


    I wouldn’t give him the league minimum much less 12 million.

  10. The problem isn’t Bridgewater (or Luck) or the Vikings (Colts).

    The problem remains despite the CBA.

    Some players have a huge impact upon a team’s success while others have a relatively minor impact. To further complicate it, some players are *predicted* to have a huge impact while others are not *predicted* to succeed on a superstar level.

    The teams have all the leverage, as Kaepernick’s situation shows.

    The Vikings are getting squeezed because they have three starting quarterbacks who haven’t historically or consistently played at a sufficiently high level (through injury or for other reasons).

    There is only one certainty. The Vikings will make the wrong choice, but that wrong choice won’t become evident until the Championship game next year.

  11. I just have a bad feeling about how this QB situation will end up with the Vikings. Loved watching Case play but rumors are surfacing that the vikingsdon’t feel he’s a starter. I hope I’m wrong.

  12. stellarperformance says:
    February 24, 2018 at 11:06 am
    What a mess. How can the Vikings get started developing their newly discovered epiphany; “Offense wins championships,” without a quarterback?

    You stated that incorrectly, that last comment is without the right Quarterback!
    Listen the Vikings know exactly what they don’t have in Keenum, Not sure on Bridgewater, and have no faith in Bradfords health. Cousins will sign and Minnesota will be a Dynasty.

  13. I think I may have cracked the code on this unsolvable situation:

    Apply the unmistakably clear rule today. Make a new rule to apply in the future if you don’t like this one.

  14. Things are not “Murkey” or “unresolved”.

    If they really wanted him, he’d have known it by now. They don’t really want him. And to be truthful, he didn’t show me enough before the injury for anybody to really want him. He looked like a back up at best BEFORE the injury. So if he were smart, he’d start looking for a back up spot somewhere in the league now and get ahead of all the other wanna be back ups in this league.

  15. Teddy is what he is, a backup qb. If he is granted free agency i don’t not see a huge market for him but i could see a team or two offering more than 1.3 million to secure his services IF he is healthy. He has shown to be a competent quarterback in the NFL and that definitely is worth more than the 1.3 he is scheduled to make is his contract is “tolled” or whatever the term is.

  16. With that defense, and the likelihood it remains their staple identity, the Vikes should sign McCarron, saving themselves some really big dollars, and call it a day.

  17. If Bridgewater cannot become a free agent then the Vikes can keep him and either Keenum or Bradford. Otherwise they can keep only 1 of the 3 in all likelihood.

  18. Everyone loves Teddy including the Vikings. However, they can’t jeopardize their cap situation and pay for two starting QB’s because it is the “right thing to do.” No team needing a QB will put all their chips in on Teddy, so he won’t garner much as a FA. The question is really, does Teddy want to take $6-8M from the Vikings to compete with Keenum? If not, then he’ll be sitting on the bench for some other team, most likely not making even that much. Wherever Teddy ends up, his contract will be full of incentives and escalator clauses. Its really up to him and whether he truly has recovered.

  19. I’m sure the Vikes have a plan, I’m sure there will be a decent enough QB under center next year, I’m sure the team will be fine, and I’m sure cheeses will criticize every QB decision the Vikes make.

  20. So the Vikings want a backup QB for 1.3 mil. Teddy wants a raise even though he didn’t work for a year. I want to be a backup QB, not work for a year, and I want 1.3 mil but as a bonus I won’t ask for a raise.

  21. Bridgewater is that guy who, the longer he’s out, the better he is.
    He’s honestly just a bubble screen guy who will never put a team on his back and go the distance.
    He’s a backup QB at most

  22. Teddy is a quality backup qb, which is a prized commodity in this league. Look no further than Green Bay and what happened to their season due to the lack of a quality backup. And it was a quality backup qb that embarrassed that vaunted viking d into quitting in the NFC Championship game. Quality backup qbs are hard to come by. The vikes should sign Teddy to a high $$, long-term contract ASAP!

  23. Under the CBA it is clear that his contract is tolled. There is no dispute as to the letter of the agreement. His contract for 2018 is $1.3 million. He is not entitled to Free Agency and the League is the entity that determines this, not the Vikings.

  24. There was no way that Bridgewater was fit and able to play as of week one. He had brace on his knee right upto around week four or five, and had he been fit to play in week seven, then despite Keenum picking up a few wins, the chances are Zimmer would have had Bridgewater starting. He wasn’t ready, and by the CBA wording, his contract should toll.

    However, if the team truly believes that Bridgewater is healthy and ready to take that next step in his recovery and career progression, then they should do the right thing by him and at least increase his 2018 salary to $5m – after all he injured himself during practice at the teams’ facility and isn’t as though he kicked a door through after getting locked out or got injured playing hoops etc.

  25. And for those who say that Bridgewater wants a raise for not working for a year or two – you obviously have never had to suffer and recover from a major injury.

    Just because he wasn’t on the field doesn’t mean he wasn’t working his arse off in recovery.

  26. Bridgewater is going to be fine no matter what. God is with him. Watch and see. This is all on Tom Brady. You stay with the hot hand. Brady replaced Bledsoe and the rest is rings. Why let B-water walk when you can keep him?

  27. If the knee holds out I could see TEDDY being a top #10 QB in 2019 (middle 10 in 2018)
    As long as his knee holds out I could see SAM B being a top # 10 QB in 2018
    I could see SLOTER being able to be a starter if needed in 2019 and who knows from there

    I’d be OK with TEDDY SAM and SLOTER let them duke it out and the best QB win.

    Cousins is good but I have never seen him carry a team to victory like TEDDY and SAM have.
    If you are going to get paid like a QB that can carry a team to victory like Brady, Rogers, Wilson, Stafford, Brees then you have to be one. No to Cousins, his greates plus is that he is good and has 2 good legs and a good shoulder to I do believe.

  28. It wasn’t the offense that lost to Philadelphia as much as it was the defense. Don’t lose sight of that. A better QB would not have stopped the Eagles on third down. I don’t know who they keep, but I doubt it will be Bridgewater. They will upgrade the line and more time to pass will mean more deep balls that don’t play to Bridgewater’s strength. I actually think Bradford will be around because no one will want him so he will come cheap. So I think it comes down to Keenum or someone new. Bradford stays at a discount and Teddy goes. But it won’t matter until the defense figures out how to defend quick throw timing patterns.

  29. their newly discovered epiphany; “Offense wins championships,


    It certainly has gotten McCarthy and Rodgers numerous championships. Idiot.

  30. Anyone that thinks Teddy is going to automatically be some kind of savior is just being a homer. Anyone that thinks Teddy will never amount to anything is just trolling. The simple fact of the matter is, we don’t have nearly enough information on the kid to form any kind of informed, objective opinion. The people in the best position to make that determination are the MN coaching staff. Whether they make the right determiation or not remains to be seen.

    As for Keenum, people say “You know what you’re going to get, journey man QB, bla ba bla”. Yes, we do know… and that’s exactly why I’d bring him back if I were the Vikings. Why would anyone assume that Keenum, who played very well for the Vikings, would play like Keenum played for the Texans or the Rams if he were still with the Vikings? He didn’t play well for a game or two, he played well for nearly an entire season.

    If it were me, I’d sign Keenum and try to retain Teddy and if I was able to keep Teddy I’d let them battle it out in camp. Again, we know almost nothing about Teddy; while he didn’t exactly set the world on fire before the injury, he wasn’t horrible by any means and he seemed to be ascending. I’d have to at the very least give him a hard look. Bradford, I’d let walk. I just wouldn’t be able to trust his health. But that’s just me.

  31. There is no way Mike Zimmer is going to give up on Teddy. It’s definitely a risk to make him the starter, but if he can only pick one of Teddy, Case, Sam, or Cousins, it will be Teddy.

    And they’re going to be just fine.

  32. darkneptune73 says:

    So in other words, it’s becoming more likely Bridgewater leaves and Vikings probably re-resign Keenum.


    Or, the Vikings resign Keenum and keep Teddy for $1.3 mil. A quality back-up for that salary? All day long.

    It is now 2018 and ‘Teddy as the favorite’ is old and outdated. Love him, but it’s Case’s team now.

  33. Heck–at this point I’d love Teddy and Bradford. Can’t be worse than the 3 headed monster in Denver!

  34. Frazier28/7 says:
    February 24, 2018 at 7:04 pm
    It certainly has gotten McCarthy and Rodgers numerous championships. Idiot.

    Numerous? The Viking plan for championships is numerous? Don’t you think they’d be better off planning for one at a time? Try for one. Try that. One. Maroon.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!