Teddy Bridgewater‘s 2017 status could be at the epicenter of a major dispute, with the NFLPA and Bridgewater’s camp on one side and the Vikings/NFL on the other. The Vikings did not pick up the quarterback’s fifth-year option last week, but due to a CBA provision that could make Bridgewater’s contract toll, the passer could be to his rookie deal through 2018 despite the team’s refusal to pick up the $11MM-plus option. Florio now reports this is shaping up as a contentious battle, should certain events unfold.
Should Bridgewater end up on the PUP list, which shelves a player for the first six weeks of the season, his $1.354MM salary would stand to carry over to 2018. A CBA provision indicates players in the final year of their contracts would see those deals toll to the following season if they spend more than six games on the PUP list. Bridgewater and the NFLPA would be ready to challenge a PUP designation by the Vikings, Florio reports, if the two parties believe he could pass a physical and follow the course to free agency in 2018. They would thereby be accusing the team of using the PUP list to keep the quarterback in the Twin Cities for an extra year at a cheaper rate. This is moot as of now, since it’s uncertain if Bridgewater will be able to pass a physical by September, but a source told Florio this would be a “huge” battle if it comes to pass.
Rick Spielman said he’s aware of this rule, but he did not comment further during an appearance on PFT Live earlier this week. One confusing component of this process that could work in the NFLPA’s favor is the NFL Management Council interpreting in past cases that the relevant language here means a player would need to spend the whole season on the PUP list for the contract to toll, Florio notes. So, this could be a complex offseason for the former Minnesota starter. Mike Zimmer said in March he does not know if Bridgewater will be able to play this season. The Vikings have already named Sam Bradford their starter.
Here’s the latest from around the league.
- Speaking of NFLPA-vs.-NFL issues, the union is holding up some teams’ contract negotiations with rookies due to the belief some provisions in proposed accords are in violation of the CBA, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports. The NFLPA sent a memo to agents urging them to reject certain types of proposals they feel violate the CBA. Language regarding players’ health and money they could owe their respective teams represents some of the issues causing the union to object to teams’ negotiations, and multiple execs told Pelissero the union’s stance here has slowed down the process.
- The Chargers experienced major injury issues at running back last season. In addition to Melvin Gordon failing to finish a season for the second time in as many years, injuries shelved Danny Woodhead, Branden Oliver and Dexter McCluster. Woodhead and McCluster are no longer with the Bolts, and the team did not use a draft pick on a back. Part of this equation involves the Bolts’ belief Andre Williams can be a viable Gordon backup, Eric Williams of ESPN.com notes. After spending most of last season on the Chargers’ practice squad, the former Giants fourth-round pick rushed for 87 yards in the season finale against the Chiefs. Bolts coaches observed Andre Williams giving the defense fits in practice last season, per Eric Williams. Los Angeles did add former Eagles backup Kenjon Barner in free agency, and he joins Kenneth Farrow, Oliver and Williams as potential Gordon backups.
- The Colts‘ first-round selection of Malik Hooker looks to halt Darius Butler‘s wishes to play safety, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star writes. Butler re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $3MM deal but did so in hopes the team would allow him to transition to safety full-time. But Holder notes that Hooker unexpectedly falling to No. 15 should push Butler back to the nickel role, where he’d work in the slot.