MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The Future at QB NOT as Cloudy as it Seems

UPDATED: 9/2/17 (Update Under Original)

Who will be quarterback for our Minnesota Vikings after this season?

That seems to be the question everyone is asking.  Yet it seems there isn’t an outlet really digging into it.  Why? It is hard to know whether Teddy will come back this year. If you read the StarTribune and Matt Vensel, you may be up-to-date on some of the details already. Nonetheless, we are going to dig into it and try to come up with the likely outcomes at QB, as Teddy continues to rehab and Sam looks to lead the Vikings into 2017

The Vikings chose NOT to sign Teddy Bridgewater’s extension for his 5th year team option. The option is part of all rookie contracts, if taken in the 1st round.  Sports outlets seem to leave out some key details, when posting about Bridgwater’s option not being picked up. It leaves questions in the mind of your average fan. Mostly: “What does that mean for Teddy’s future, Sam’s future, and the Vikings’ future?”

Teddy’s 5th year option would have been worth over $12 Million. The Vikings don’t even know if Teddy will be back at all yet THIS year (or in his career for that matter), let alone think he will be worth $12M NEXT season.

Teddy will start the season on the preseason on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) List because of his career threatening knee injury from last year. Now that the decision has been officially made NOT to sign Teddy’s 5th year option, here are the 2 scenarios the Vikings could face:

Scenario 1: Bridgewater is ABLE to come off the PUP List THIS season:

If Teddy comes off the PUP list before game 6 this season, he will become an Unrestricted Free Agent going into next season. But players can’t come off the PUP until after Week 6 so if Teddy is on the list entering the regular season, he will be a Viking in 2018. Teddy would have to be cleared by ALL doctors from the end of Week 6 – the start of Week 10 (3 weeks) (I am sure there would be many including team doctors, NFLPA doctors, Teddy’s doctors, and maybe even independent/government/CIA/FBI doctors) in order to play in THIS (2017) SEASON. If that happens, he will backup Sam Bradford for the back-end of the season.

Scenario 2: Bridgewater is UNABLE to come off the PUP List THIS season:

IF Teddy stays on the PUP through 6 GAMES this season he would fall under the “toll rule” which means this season would become a moot season for Teddy, and he would still be on his rookie contract for 2018. Some reports have said that Teddy would need to be on the PUP ALL season. I got this straight out of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement. Read it for yourself:

2011-2020 NFL CBA: Article 20 (Other Provisions): Section 2. Physically Unable to Perform: 

“Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His con- tract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.”

So what does this mean???

Well, first thing is first. Start with the sure thing.

You resign Bradford (I would do it sooner rather than later but I can see both sides).

Bradford is going into the last year of his current deal, this season (2017). With the unknowns the Vikings have with Teddy, you need to lock in the above average QB that is currently on your roster. That is the only way to make sure you end up with one of these guys no matter what.

The Vikings can do it now and have the chance to save some money (why I would), in the case Bradford has the type of year we all hope he does. Bradford has some gaudy stats in some categories from last year, but I don’t think very many people put him in the top class of quarterbacks at this point.  We all hope the additions (O-Line + RB + WR growth) will make Sam’s life easier this Fall. If that is the case, Bradford will look REALLY good to those teams searching for QB’s next offseason, which will push up his cost.

However, the Vikings might want to make sure Sam can stay healthy and look like a future franchise quarterback this season, before cutting long-term checks. Both have upsides and downsides. It doesn’t really matter. If Sam Bradford proves himself as a long-term franchise QB this year, the Vikings will not (nor would any team) let him go after the season. So, barring a really poor season or an injury Sam WILL get resigned.

But what about TEDDY???

Calm down, calm down.

As long as Teddy Bridgewater gets healthy, and NFL ready, He AND the Vikings will have options. Here are the different ways things can play out over the next couple seasons IF, and only IF, Teddy can GET healthy AND Sam STAYS healthy.

Teddy remains on the PUP List for entire 2017 season:

If this is the case, Bridgewater’s contract would toll to 2018 where he would start the last year of his rookie deal. Again, barring a Bradford injury or terrible 2017 season, Bradford should be on the first year of a new deal. It is hard to see there being much of a competition here. Bradford would have the job, coming off a new deal (and hopefully successful 2017), but it sure would be interesting to see Teddy play out a lot of those preseason quarters.  It would be REALLY nice, even if it is just preseason, to see #5 out there throwing the ball again.

If Teddy comes out and he and his knee look good, it opens up all sorts of options for the team. IN this case Zimmer and Spielman can hold onto Teddy as long as they want/need for 2018. If Bradford struggles or gets hurt, Teddy can be an option. If Bradford plays well and the team looks good, we can wait for a QB desperate team to call, just like the Vikings called the Eagles last season, for Bradford. If this is the way it plays out QB desperate teams would be bidding a now healthy, played on surgically repaired knee, 26-27-year-old quarterback.

Sam Bradford pulled in a 1st and 4th rounder for the Eagles. Would Teddy be worth that? Maybe not. But possible starting QB’s, especially young ones, are HIGHLY sought after in this league. So, the Vikings would definitely get offers they would want to look at, even for a guy coming off the injury Teddy is.

For those of you thinking Teddy could beat out Bradford in Training Camp 2018: Not likely… at all. That means Teddy, coming off of two complete seasons, without playing, would have to  outperform a guy who just got a new deal to be a starting QB in this league (probably north of $20M/yr). I have faith in Teddy, just like anyone else, but this is a big stretch.

As I write this, Peter King has come out with an article that had a little excerpt about Bridgewater, saying his knee “reportedly” is not regenerating due to nerve damage. caused when the injury occurred and that the Vikings are prepping to “say goodbye” to the young QB. The reports, up until King’s piece, have been that there was no nerve damage. Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports sent out tweets yesterday that said Teddy did NOT suffer nerve damage and is progressing normally.

He said that the Vikings’ plan has not changed. They will start him on the PUP list and revisit in October. In other words, believe whichever side of this he said/he said, you would like.

So, if the situation looks more like what Tom Pelissero is saying, Teddy might come off the PUP this year. Let’s take a look at that.

Teddy comes off the PUP list THIS season between weeks 6 and 10 (2017):

According to anonymous sources from ProFootballTalk.com, this IS the likely scenario for Bridgewater this season. Their source says Teddy will likely come off the PUP list THIS season.  But again, according to the CBA, he would have to be ready as of game 6… which isn’t possible since the league only allows players to come off the PUP list between weeks 6 and 10… 

Would there be an opportunity to look at trading Teddy if he comes back before the trade deadline? Not likely. PFT’s sources would have to be correct.  But, what would you get for him before he gets a chance to show teams his knee? The trade deadline is after Week 8. That would be two weeks. Probably not much of a chance.

If Teddy plays legitimate minutes this year, it won’t make for a fun 2017. A season that, no matter the Vikings’ success, will end with a Super Bowl in Minneapolis.

If Teddy is going to come off the PUP list THIS season and have a chance to prove his future in a Vikings Jersey, it could mean our Vikings are NOT in a good place. It means the Vikings are likely having a losing season. It means Bradford probably hasn’t cemented himself as a Franchise Quarterback. It would also mean….. Teddy Time. Teddy being healthy would be the only positive nugget out of this story. We would get our chance to see if Teddy looks good enough to be the Vikings’ future. It would also leave for a lot of questions about our football team, in general, going forward.

The other way Teddy could see the field, if he is ready to play this season, is if Bradford gets injured. We don’t want this either. Obviously, nobody wants to see a player get hurt, especially one like Sam who has already battled his way through many career injuries. Beyond that, it would be scary, and quite the story line, handing the team off to Bridgewater, coming off the injury, to lead the Vikings into the post season.

If the Vikings are the playoff team we hope, and Sam Bradford can stay healthy, he is probably the Vikings future. That shouldn’t upset you though. This is the scenario that fits best for BOTH parties. The Vikings and their Fans get the Franchise QB they have been looking for, with a team that should be ready to win now. Teddy Bridgewater would get healthy and have a full season and a half to prove himself to NFL Teams.

Either way, the likely scenario is that Teddy remains on the PUP through week 6 tolling his contract to next season where we will get a chance to see if he can be the comeback story we are all want to see.  Bradford should be by his side with a fresh contract.

Unless Teddy is never ready AND something happens to Sam… but that’s just the Minnesota Sports Fan, in me, talking…

The Vikings have a good chance of having their cake and eating it too. A healthy Sam + a rebounding Teddy is better than a lot of NFL teams can say.

UPDATE: 9/2/2017

Since writing this piece almost 4 months ago, a lot has happened with the Teddy Bridgewater situation. He has progressed rapidly and some were even reporting that he was going to be cleared to play BEFORE the preseason was over, allowing him to keep his contract from tolling to the 2018 season.

Apparently he wasn’t cleared by all the doctors because he will still start the season on the PUP List.

That means, according to Article 20 of the CBA (above), he will have his contract tolled to next season since he cannot come off the PUP until Week 6.

Things get interesting here because this rule just doesn’t look fair on its face. It looks like Bridgewater’s Camp and the NFLPA might feel the same way. They do have the option of filing a grievance to fight the rule.

Here was Rick Spielman with PFT Live on Friday September 1st:

“We know the rule very well,” Spielman said. “We’ve talked to the Management Council, we understand everything that’s involved with it, but again it’s something from a contractual standpoint that I’d rather not comment on. But there are specific rules there, and we’re quite aware of what the rules are.”

It would be a raw deal if Teddy has to play for the Vikings next year at just $1.3 Million next year when he could have been making 20 times that, had he stayed healthy. However, the best case scenario for the Vikings and their fans is to have Teddy with the team next year. Hopefully they can settle on a little more money but still in a purple jersey.

At this point, I would be near shock if Teddy isn’t ready between Week 6 and 10. The first part of this article was written a long time ago. Teddy has turned a lot of heads since then. I still believe the Vikings should resign Bradford. Financially it would make more sense and it would give the Vikings piece-of-mind for the future of the most important position on their football team.

Not resigning him only benefits the Vikings if he gets hurt or plays like shit.

Resigning him now would bring him in cheaper and give them the option of trading He or Bridgewater next season, after figuring out who holds their future. If they wait, and Bradford plays well, it is going to be difficult not to resign him and he is going to be much more expensive.

Honestly, I have really changed my mind since first writing this. If Teddy comes back as good as before (after knocking some rust off I’m sure), and on the same track as before, I want him to be the Vikings’ QB. Especially with this offensive line and his mobility. But a healthy Sam, off a decent or better season, would command anywhere from a 4th round pick to a 1st round pick, via trade in 2018, depending on his play and health in 2017.

This will be a story line for the whole season so hold on to your hats.

Eric Strack

Sources: Matt Vensel – StarTribune, Tom Pelissero – Twitter, MMQB – Peter King, CBA Agreement – NFLPA.com, ProFootballTalk.com – Mike Florio, Spotrac, NFL.com – Kevin Patra, Washington Post – Matt Bonesteel, Matt Coller – 1500 ESPN

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