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Free Agent Spotlight: Quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater

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Could the Buccaneers look to a division rival for their starting quarterback?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Recently, its been reported that the Buccaneers are “all-in” on Tom Brady. That they are willing to meet all his demands/requests to get him here. However, if that doesn’t work, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times put New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the number two option for the Bucs in their “quarterback pecking order.”

So, let’s talk about him, shall we?

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER’S CAREER THUS FAR

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

A first round pick out of the University of Louisville to the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, things started off well for Teddy. The Vikings went 6-6 in Bridgewater’s twelve starts his rookie season followed by 11-5 the following season.

Then, disaster.

Bridgewater tore his ACL, dislocated his knee, and suffered other structural damage during a non-contact drill in 2016. Bridgewater’s surgeon even went so far as to say, “It’s certainly the worst knee dislocation in sports I’ve ever seen without having a nerve or vessel injury. … It’s a horrific injury. You’ve torn every single thing in your knee and it’s hanging on by one ligament on one side like a hinge.”

But, Teddy fought on. He would return to the Vikings in 2017, making one appearance for the team. Bridgewater would go on to attempt his comeback with the New York Jets before being traded to the New Orleans Saints in August 2018. With the Saints, Bridgewater would start five games for the Saints in two seasons, going 147/219 for 1,502 yards, ten touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Saints would go 5-1 in those six starts, all five wins coming in 2019 when Bridgewater filled in for Drew Brees following a broken thumb Brees suffered against the Rams.

WHY IT WORKS

Teddy isn’t the most prolific passer, however he is one of the better quarterbacks in 2019 as far as protecting the football - which is something the Buccaneers are certainly going to emphasize following last season. Bridgewater finished with a 4.5:1 touchdown to interception ratio which likely wouldn’t hold up for an entire season. That said, he improved dramatically since his time in Minnesota where he had 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Was it the system? Was it Sean Peyton? Or could it be the influence from sitting behind and working with Drew Brees that helped him elevate that level of his game?

Bridgewater finished with 7.1 yards per attempt and 6.2 air yards per attempt in 2019 which was a full yard behind Jameis Winston’s 8.1 yards per attempt and more than four yards behind Winston’s 10.4 air yards per attempt.

That doesn’t mean that Bridgewater can’t play in this system.

Bridgewater didn’t have to be on the attack each and every game. He managed the game, relied on his playmakers to make plays, and protected the football. It also helped that the Saints were consistently playing from behind allowing Teddy to not force the issue. Many of Winston’s shortcomings were due to the Bucs trailing and being forced to push the ball down field - whether that was because the defense couldn’t stop the opposition or turnovers set them back. No matter the reason, there were a lot of high risk plays that the Bucs had to make due to circumstance.

Bridgewater doesn’t have the cannon Winston does. No one will argue that. That doesn’t mean he can’t air it out under Bruce Arians. Does it mean the depth of the target will be the same? No, not at all. It may mean that Bridgewater is releasing the ball a half second earlier leading to more yards after catch rather than more air yards. In the end, what does it matter as long as the result is the same?

This approach could also be beneficial as far as protection is concerned. If Bridgewater isn’t holding on to the ball - as Winston tends to do at times - then the offensive line isn’t forced to protect as long and the sack numbers start to fall. It isn’t going to take away the deep shots, it’s just going to change the approach to making them happen.

BUT...

Bridgewater can still certainly be viewed as an “unknown commodity” given his lack of opportunity since returning from injury. He was traded from the Jets after being unable to beat out Josh McCown for the starting job, landing him in New Orleans. After only six starts in two years, is it worth the risk to give this guy a massive amount of money when he hasn’t started a full season since Winston’s rookie year?

That’s a huge, huge risk if you’re a team that is moving on from your number one overall pick from five years ago and have a head coach that likely won’t last the duration of his contract. The plan, as far as we know it, is win immediately - which is a wild thought for a team that has had one winning season in the last five years and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007. However, they have the talent to do it. Is it worth hinging all that to Teddy Bridgewater? The quarterback is the most important position on the field and the most important decision the Buccaneers will make this off-season. They absolutely can not make a mistake.

WHAT’S THE COST?

Per Spotrac, they have Bridgewater’s estimated market value at $21.5 million per year. Now, given that, Bridgewater is a guy that can certainly that can win this team some games and potentially get them to the postseason all while not breaking the bank the way Tom Brady or Jameis Winston might. You can take that extra money to ensure Jason Pierre-Paul or Ndamukong Suh return while also keeping Shaquil Barrett - whether that’s a long term deal or the franchise tag.

To put it in perspective, that would be less than what Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, and Nick Foles are all making while about six million more than Jacoby Brissett. It’s a high risk, high reward situation that likely would be one of the more affordable deals among the quarterback market next week.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

We still don’t know how Bridgewater will do outside of New Orleans and away from Sean Peyton. Again, this is something that won’t be answered until we see him in another uniform playing for another coach, but it is certainly reason to give you pause.

We also have no idea what Bridgewater’s desire to play in Tampa would be. This is a team he’s gotten to know pretty well the last two years, so you’d think he would be excited at the prospect of playing with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. It’s in his home state of Florida, not too far from his hometown of Miami - but perhaps if he is going to go back to Florida he’d rather be a Dolphin.

The other variable is his market. You have to think the market will lean towards locking up Tom Brady and Philip Rivers first, leaving Teddy, Ryan Tannehill, and Jameis as the next two on the list (all this assuming the Cowboys have Dak Prescott either locked up with a long term deal or at the very least franchised) that teams would look to pursue. We saw Robert Griffin III throw his hat in the ring in hopes of becoming a starter again, but there are more quarterbacks than starting jobs at this point. One would believe that Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Tua Tagovailoa would be starters for the teams that draft him - with the one exception potentially being Tua who may not be physically ready yet.

Brady will likely be the first domino to fall - unless the Titans decide they’re just going to keep Tannehill, which I could certainly see happening early in this process - and we’ll start to get a better idea as to what Bridgewater’s market actually looks like which will impact his price.

MAKE THE DECISION

There are a lot of people out there that don’t want Teddy because he “doesn’t fit Bruce Arians’ system,” which is absolutely ridiculous. If the Bucs are pursuing him in any fashion, they aren’t doing so without Arians wanting him on the team. The crew from Good Morning Football had plenty to say about the idea of Bridgewater heading to Tampa Bay and as we’ve heard throughout the off-season, it seems like the Bucs view him as an absolutely viable option to take over as the starting quarterback in 2020 and beyond.

So what should the Bucs do about TB in TB? Let us know in the poll and the comments below.

Poll

When It Comes To Teddy Bridgewater, What Would You Have The Buccaneers Do?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Sign Him, No Matter What
    (45 votes)
  • 51%
    Make An Offer, But Keep It Reasonable
    (107 votes)
  • 11%
    Invite Him For A Cup Of Coffee And See Where It Goes From There
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Call Him Up If They Have A Need After The Draft
    (12 votes)
  • 9%
    Don’t Need Him
    (20 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now