It’s unclear whether Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater will be the Vikings’ starting quarterback next year, but the former has a clear advantage based on health. Moreover, Bradford’s performance has impressed head coach Mike Zimmer, who heaped praise on the 29-year-old Thursday. “I think, honestly, if you sat back and looked at all the things — being traded, trying to learn a new system, having a new coach, having to learn teammates — all these things that he’s had to deal with. Injuries on offense. I thought he’s done an unbelievable job,” said Zimmer (via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com).
Minnesota paid a high price to acquire Bradford from Philadelphia in early September after Bridgewater suffered a catastrophic knee injury. Now a disappointing 7-8, the Vikings won’t replicate their playoff-bound 2015 campaign under Bridgewater, though Bradford has nonetheless fared respectably despite having little help from his offensive line or running game. With a 71.3 percent completion percentage, the seventh-year man is on track to surpass the single-season record of 71.2. He has also amassed 17 touchdowns against just four interceptions and posted a career-best 98.3 passer rating in 14 starts. Those numbers are somewhat the product of a conservative offense, though, as Bradford ranks last in the league in air yards per attempt (6.24), notes Goessling.
More from the NFC:
- As a less-than-ideal fit for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 scheme, pass rusher Connor Barwin could end up a cap casualty in the offseason. But the 30-year-old would consider taking a pay cut from $7.75MM to remain with the club, he told Marcus Hayes of Philly.com. “I’m willing to do something,” he said. “So, we’ll see.” Barwin added that he’s “optimistic about the system, and the growth I can have in it from this year to next year.” The fourth-year Eagle has four sacks, his fewest since totaling three in 2012, and has racked up only seven quarterback hurries after accumulating 18 in 2015. Releasing him would save Philadelphia $7.75MM against just $600K in dead money.
- Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis has no plan to retire, David Newton of ESPN.com tweets, meaning the back-to-back Pro Bowler will return for a 12th season in 2017. Davis has played 93.9 percent of the Panthers’ defensive snaps this year and filled the stat sheet with 15 starts, 104 tackles, three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The soon-to-be 34-year-old is set to count $8.25MM against the Panthers’ cap in 2017, the last season of his contract.
- Left tackle Michael Oher, another integral Panthers cog, is likely to return next year, offensive lineman Trai Turner told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I think he’ll play again,” Turner said Thursday. “He never said or gave me an indication that he wouldn’t.” Oher already shot down retirement rumors earlier this year, but that was before a concussion forced him to injured reserve Nov. 25. The 30-year-old played in a mere three games this season – none past Sept. 25 – and dealt with serious concussion-related problems (sensitivity to light and issues with vision, movement and balance) before going on IR, according to Person.