I know a lot of people here probably won’t care about this article or Teddy Bridgewater now that he is no longer a member of the Jets. He likely will go down as nothing more than a footnote in franchise history.
Admittedly, a lot of what I’m about to write is personal. I’m writing it because I remember a Saturday back in 2012 when I was watching the Louisville Cardinals play and was blown away by their sophomore quarterback. I kept wondering who this guy was making all of these quick decisions and throwing such accurate passes.
Over the next two years that quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, developed into a Draft crush of mine. I was totally sold on him. I was baffled that a bad pro day could drop him down Draft boards. I advocated for the Jets to pick him if he fell to them in the first round.
The Jets passed, and their decades long quarterback purgatory continued. I spent many hours over the last four years wondering how different things might have been had the team taken my advice and picked Bridgewater rather than his college teammate Calvin Pryor on that Thursday night in 2014.
As many of us do with our Draft crushes, I kept following Teddy’s career and rooting for him. I was optimistic after he was the starting quarterback on a Vikings team that won its division in 2015. No, he wasn’t playing spectacular football. He wasn’t carrying the playmaking load. He was able to lean on the league’s best back. Still, he was playing effective football at a young age. He worked around a bad offensive line and an outdated system that didn’t suit his skills. His future seemed bright to me.
We all know know followed. On a human level, it was difficult to see a young guy with so much promise see his career nearly end. His 2016 knee injury brought to end a potentially promising tenure in Minnesota.
After a long rehab, fate finally gave me what I wanted this March. The Jets signed Bridgewater. I was excited, but I was also realistic. While he showed promise in his first two NFL seasons, there were some question marks about whether he could continue to grow. And these questions were there before the injury, which created many more serious questions.
Beyond that, we all knew this was a short-term marriage of convenience. The Jets needed a viable quarterback. Bridgewater wanted the team where he had the best chance to start. At the time he signed, that was the Jets. But he knew that he was taking a calculated gamble.
I’m not sure whether the Jets told it to him directly, but they didn’t need to. Anybody with an ounce of common sense would know there was a chance the Jets would draft a quarterback in 2018, and the second the Jets judged that quarterback was ready to play, Teddy’s days in green and white would be numbered.
Teddy took that gamble because it gave him the highest odds, but as we all know, it didn’t work out.
Through it all I have maintained admiration for a guy who has been handed his share of unlucky breaks in a short career. He has persevered and fought his way back from an injury that wasn’t just career threatening. It could have cost him his leg.
Even after it became clear he would not get a chance with the Jets, he went out of his way to help Sam Darnold, the man who took that chance away from him.
It takes a special type of person to deal with disappointment in this way.
I’m sure today was another disappointment to Teddy. He’s too classy to say it in the days to come, but what he really wants is a team of his own where he can start. Today’s trade closes that door for another year. He will be forced to hold a clipboard.
I just hope things work out for him eventually. Maybe today’s trade, while frustrating in the short run, will facilitate him eventually taking the reins from Drew Brees and becoming the long-term starter for the Saints. Maybe he will absorb knowledge from one of the game’s best quarterback minds, Sean Payton, this year and use those lessons on a new team next year. Maybe his chance will come sooner than any of us expect. Perhaps he will be called upon in the event something happens to Drew Brees, and he will have the opportunity to become the Nick Foles of the Gulf Coast in 2018.
Good luck, Teddy. No matter how it happens, you deserve the best.