Throughout the next several weeks, we’ll be assessing the market on some of the best free agents set to come available on March 14. Beyond scheme fit, these decisions will be impacted by available finances, team thoughts on current draft prospects and perception of value vs. actual value. We’ll try and parse through those ideas here.
Player: Teddy Bridgewater
2018 Salary: $6 million
2018 Statistics: 14-of-23, 118 yards, one touchdown, one INT (backed up Drew Brees in New Orleans)
Why he’s a top-tier free agent: Bridgewater, the 2014 first-round pick, is still only 26 years old and hits free agency at a time when his particular services may be more valuable than ever. Why? There are two teams—Washington and Jacksonville—in need of a starter immediately capable of lifting the team to the playoffs. There’s another team—Miami—who may draft a quarterback but could still use a capable veteran as a bridge option to compete in 2019. Bridgewater will be the slightly more affordable version of Nick Foles, and is younger and has a higher upside than the others in a scattershot free agency class such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler.
After refining his game over the course of a Pro Bowl season in 2015, Bridgewater was on the rise, but a horrific ACL tear during the ’16 preseason in Minnesota derailed his career. Back on the field consistently by the 2018 preseason, he looked comfortable and decisive; the same could be said for his one mop-up start for the Saints in Week 17 of 2018, where he threw a couple well-placed darts and flashed some functional escapability and mobility.
Risks involved: Bridgewater was never really asked to take over games. His time in Minnesota was, at first, designed to complement Adrian Peterson and the running game. While the knee injury is in the past, the scope of his recovery is probably not lost on teams who may be tinkering with the idea of Bridgewater as a semi-long-term option. He also hasn’t seen extended game action, and taken game-in, game-out bumps and bruises on a weekly basis in almost four years.
Market prospects: Both teams looking for starters in 2019—Jacksonville and Washington—have, or would like to build their offense around a physical running game. This is perfect for Bridgewater, who still looked good in his brief 2018 performances off the play action. He is not going to lose games with worrisome mistakes and could still exist harmoniously as a high-end backup, or competition for an incoming rookie.
Potential Destinations: Washington, Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, Miami, Tampa Bay
Tyrod Taylor:Two years, $30.5 million / $15,250,000 APY / $15.5 million total guarantees
Josh McCown:One year, $10 million / $10 million APY / $5 million total guarantees
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