Today was a great day.
Yesterday was a great day too. The Vikings beat the Packers. But, I was again irritated with a question that I’ve been trying to get answers to since the Vikings declined Teddy Bridgewater’s rookie option a year ago.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH TEDDY’S CONTRACT AFTER THE SEASON? Teddy Bridgewater was supposed to be a Free Agent at the end of the season, after the team declined his option, but there was a this “toll rule” that was getting in the way of everything? I was confused and that would be a reoccurring theme on the subject for a long time.
Why was it so confusing? The language in the CBA for the toll rule seems pretty clear. If Teddy isn’t medically cleared and available by the 6th game of the 2017-2018 season, he would return as a Vikings’ employee for 2018-2019. Only the most optimistic had Teddy returning that early so what gives so we should expect a toll right?
Well, It seems that neither the Vikings nor Teddy’s camp would confirm the expectation that his contract would toll to 2018-2019.
My frustration got worse when I started looking for answers. Because, nobody had any. I was left to a research project that was comparable to the 50 page thesis I wrote to earn my bachelor’s degree. I studied the CBA, I scoured sources (both legitimate and non), and I reached out to those who might know more than myself (including Matt Vensel who was the Star Tribune’s Vikings beat writer at the time) to try and find answers on what happened with Teddy Bridgewater’s contract at the end of the season.
For MONTHS my questions on the subject went largely unanswered. ESPECIALLY from any accredited reporters. They wouldn’t touch the topic. That excludes Vensel but he didn’t have many answers either. He confirmed his knowledge on my theories and facts to make sure I wasn’t missing anything he noticed but couldn’t confirm what was going on either.
But finally, all of that changed.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 15, 2017
Here are the key paragraphs on Bridgewater’s contract:
Then there is the matter of Bridgewater’s contract, which has been the subject of some debate.
Per Article 20, Section 2 of the collective bargaining agreement, if a player is in the final year of his contract and is unable to perform as of the sixth game, his contract tolls. It seems clear, then, that Bridgewater — on the physically unable to perform list for the sixth game — would have his contract activated for 2018 and keep him from free agency. If it’s determined by all parties that he’s not physically able to play, it will toll.
But sources say tolling is unlikely to be an issue if Bridgewater ultimately is activated, which is expected. That means his contract would expire as scheduled in March. He’d become a free agent, and the NFL Players Association wouldn’t object to that.
So, we have sources close to Bridgewater that state he will be eligible for Free Agency after this season IF he is on the active roster in 2017 (which needs to be between Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Wed., Nov. 8). But it again left me with the question of WHY?
Why would that happen when it shows so clearly in the CBA that Teddy’s contract should be tolled? So, I did what any millennial sports fan does in this situation. I took to Twitter. And NFL Insider, Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet), was awake and ready to answer. That’s what I love about Twitter. He even clarified himself, leaving me with everything I needed to formulated a better-than-education guess on how the next 6 months will transpire for our favorite NFL Team and our favorite NFL QB.
— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) October 16, 2017
Doing the right thing.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2017
Not exactly. But just know if he plays this won’t be an issue
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2017
So, the Vikings’ coaches and front office love Teddy as much as we do. That’s pretty much what I read in all of this. They could toll Teddy and it would be within the rules. Instead, it looks like they are extending him better options. Now, let me be clear. I have no further clarification by any reputable sources that this is how things will play out. However, given what I have read and the conversation with Rapoport this morning, these are the 3 possible scenarios I see playing out.
Teddy is Removed from the PUP and Placed on the Active Roster by Nov. 8th:
This is what all parties are hoping for. If this is the case, per the reports cited, Teddy would be eligible for free agency at the end of this season. If this happens, his future with the Vikings can still go one of two ways.
Teddy is inserted into the starting lineup and plays well:
A lot still needs to happen in this scenario. Teddy needs to play over Sam Bradford, which is most likely due to Bradford’s own nagging knee injury. Teddy also needs to show coaches, doctors, and trainers that he is ready for full NFL action.
But, every week it looks more and more like we are going to see it play out this way. It’s almost like it’s meant to be. Kinda weird. And if Teddy does come back and play well, I would expect a starter-type contract that is also a prove-it type deal. Teddy Bridgewater would officially be our QB of the future again.
Teddy Gets Activated but Doesn’t Play Well or the Vikings Go with Bradford:
If you would have told me Teddy was getting activated and would be ready for free agency by the end of the season, before 2017 kicked off, I would have gone with this as the likely outcome. I would have taken Bradford. With Teddy being removed for 14 months and coming back from one of the worst non-contact knee injuries in football history, it was just hard for a logical mind to come to the conclusion listed before this one. It just wasn’t really feasible. Yet, Teddy seemed to know something about his knee and his game awhile ago. He has been a different guy on social media. A more confident guy.
??? Teddy Bridgewater ✌ pic.twitter.com/PSfFXuQrmQ
— Footballzone (@UReady4Football) August 30, 2017
— Christian Pluym (@Pluym3A) September 29, 2017
— Lance D. Masina (@lancedmasina) August 29, 2017
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) September 28, 2017
Then, there is the scenario nobody wants.
Teddy is Unable to Come Off PUP List by Nov. 8th:
If Teddy, after being cleared to practice, isn’t ready to play by week 10, or Teddy and the Vikings don’t think it’s in his best interest to be active this season, then things clear up quickly. Teddy Bridgewater’s contract would toll to next season, like it reads in the CBA, and the Vikings would get him for his same contract of $1.35 Million for next season.
The money is part of what makes this so interesting. Starting QB’s make $15 Million or more in the NFL (even Cutler signed for $10M). Hell, good backups make $5-6 Million per season. So, a healthy Teddy would demand at-least $10 Million on the open market. That is a heck of a lot more than the $1.35 Million he would make if his contract tolled. (via Spotrac.com)
Borrowing Mike Zimmer’s Crystal Ball:
So, my buddy Mike borrowed me his crystal ball and in it I see Teddy Bridgewater coming back and leading the Vikings to the playoffs THIS SEASON.
That still feels a little crazy but would have been out of this world a few months ago. If you forget about the logic (that sounds like a smart thing to do) and believe nothing but your eyes, you have to believe Teddy is coming back to lead this team. That’s what the videos above show, what his recent tweets show, and that is what his leadership shows. This season, Teddy has been noticeable around the locker room, practice field, and game field, showing leadership to the younger players and others on this team. You see it much more with Teddy than with Sam.
The same thing shows up with fans. They just love him. He does the little things and says all the right things. But he is genuine and it comes off that way. For fans and the Vikings’ players, it’s almost like Bradford is the substitute teacher and the team is just waiting for their favorite full-time teacher to return from a long absence.
— Isaiah Hager (@theisaiahhager) September 26, 2017
— Brandon McCauley (@bpmccauley) September 24, 2017
Cool moment here — Teddy Bridgewater cracking Dalvin Cook up — making sure there are no rookie nerves before his debut. pic.twitter.com/yvztkP7HEF
— Ryan Shaver (@RShaverSports) September 11, 2017
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) July 31, 2017
— Dawn Mitchell (@DawnAtFOX9) August 8, 2017
— Lady Viking (@opart15a) July 31, 2017
It’s odd to really think about. But there is something different about this situation. Something different about Teddy. I will end with more tweets proving my point. This first one is a retweet of @JReidDraftScout, who is one of Teddy’s biggest supporters and a great follow on Twitter. He has been leading the Teddy charge for as long as I’ve been researching all of this. #SKOL
It’s more than just a game. https://t.co/gjYRIHkajN
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) August 30, 2017
Gonna keep the pot of WATER boiling for you until you’re ready to add some more seasoning to it ?????. https://t.co/znQaJkf25J
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) October 11, 2017
I see you working up there God.
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) August 4, 2017
I can sense God is about to perform another miracle in my life.
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) August 4, 2017
I can’t wait ??.
— Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o) July 22, 2017