Teddy Bridgewater huge for Saints future
By Tony Twillie
The New Orleans Saints shook things up around the NFL on Wednesday by making a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The New Orleans Saints are showing the NFL and the Who Dat Nation that they are serious about making a run for the next several years. On Wednesday, the Saints dealt their 2019 third round draft pick to the New York Jets for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a sixth rounder next year.
Bridgewater was projected to be a backup in New York with Josh McCown taking the starting role. The Jets also drafted Sam Darnold out of USC. Darnold was one of the five first round quarterbacks from 2018. He’s projected as their future QB and was named as their Week 1 starter on Wednesday. This left Bridgewater looking for a place to be.
Bridgewater was a 2014 first round pick out of Louisville for the Minnesota Vikings. He came out early, after a tremendous junior season in which he completed 71-percent of his passes and threw for almost 4,000 yards. Along with that, he threw for 31 touchdowns against only four interceptions.
Ironically, Bridgewater is coming to the place where his NFL career got its start. Bridgewater was the backup to Matt Cassel in 2014, who broke his foot in a game against the Saints in the Superdome. Bridgewater came into that game and threw for 150 yards and rushed for 27 in a loss to the Black and Gold. From that point, he became the starter, and finished out an okay rookie season with 2,919 yards passing and 14 TDs.
He returned as Minnesota’s starter in 2015 and led them to an 11-5 season and a playoff berth. His numbers weren’t extremely impressive – he only threw for 3231 yards and 14 TD’s, but this was an Adrian Peterson team at the time, and Peterson had a Pro Bowl season. Bridgewater was also a late add to the Pro Bowl that year.
Bridgewater suffered a major injury in 2016. He tore his ACL and dislocated his knee through a non-contact injury in practice. He missed the entire 2016 season and his future was questionable with so much structural damage. His rehab took 19 months, but he returned in time to make an appearance in Week 15 last season.
Due to the injury and the unknown status of his future, Minnesota declined to exercise its option on Breidgewater’s fifth year. He became a free agent at the end of 2017. As the Vikings worked out their options, they went with Kirk Cousins to be their future. Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets to compete for the starting job with Josh McCown. McCown became the starter and the Jets had signed Darnold for the future, so Bridgewater was expendable.
While trying not to speak in superlatives, this is a very solid move for the Saints. Tom Savage might have been a decent backup QB for an emergency, but Bridgewater represents something different. Whether or not he can find the brilliance of his junior year at Louisville, he represents a great opportunity for the Saints.
Bridgewater is now two years removed from his injury and should be fully healthy. He has tremendous upside. If he’s not the QB of the long-term future for the Saints, he projects as a better than serviceable intermediate guy. And he’s only 25 years old – there’s a bunch of tread left on that tire. He’s got starter experience, so he immediately plots in as the backup, and Savage is likely to be cut. Taysom Hill can still be the third guy and in the conversation if you feel he’s the future. Competition for that role could be tremendous and positive.
This gives you a starting caliber backup with experience but who is still very young. He will get to learn from one of the greatest QBs of all time in his runup to possibly taking over as his heir. As well, you have a third team guy who the team truly likes, and he’s got value on special teams. Win for the Saints. Win for Bridgewater. And hopefully a win for our future.
If there is any first look negative at this, the Saints dealt a third round pick next season. This is in addition to the first round pick we gave up getting Marcus Davenport. So, the Saints currently have only one pick in the first 3 rounds of the draft. 3 years of solid drafts have put the Saints in a great position, so the picks aren’t as critical as they might otherwise be. And there is still plenty opportunity to get more picks.
Welcome to New Orleans and the Who Dat Nation, Teddy Bridgewater! And (hopefully) welcome to your future!