Teddy Bridgewater

Saints Rumors: Okafor, Teddy, Armstead

A clause in Alex Okafor‘s Saints contract will allow for the veteran edge defender to gauge his worth again. Okafor signed a two-year deal to stay with the Saints earlier this year, but by registering three sacks this season, he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports. The starter opposite Cameron Jordan all season, Okafor collected four sacks in New Orleans’ first 15 games. He has until 11am on the final day of the 2018 league year to notify the Saints if he is to opt out of the deal, Underhill adds. Okafor was a free agent in both 2017 and ’18. The Saints drafted Marcus Davenport in the 2018 first round and have Jordan signed through 2020. Okafor would count $4.85MM against the Saints’ 2019 cap.

Were he to opt out, there might be more money awaiting. Okafor has stayed healthy this season and has 8.5 sacks in his two Saints years. With the top-tier free agents-to-be likely not set to leave their current teams, Okafor and second-tier peers will be the next-best options for teams looking to the market to upgrade. Of course, he has not cleared 4.5 sacks since 2014, so expectations for the 27-year-old defender’s next deal should be tempered.

Here’s the latest out of New Orleans:

  • On the subject of Saints who could become UFAs, Teddy Bridgewater is going to make his first start since a 2015 wild-card game. The Saints announced Bridgewater will start for Drew Brees. The Saints have already secured NFC home-field advantage. This game now becomes an interesting audition for a player who could be one of the most attractive free agent quarterbacks in March. Both Mike Zimmer and Bill Parcells, who serves as a mentor to Bridgewater, recommended the passer to Sean Payton, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes. The Saints sent a third-round pick to the Jets for Bridgewater, so it would make sense if they tried to keep him as the Brees heir apparent. But with several teams likely in the market for younger starter-level options, the Saints may not be able to afford Bridgewater, especially if he plays well against the Panthers.
  • Against the Steelers, Terron Armstead aggravated the pectoral injury that caused him to miss five games. Unsurprisingly, the Saints’ left tackle starter is out for Sunday’s meaningless regular-season finale. It’s not clear how severe this setback was, but Armstead did not guarantee he would be back in time for New Orleans’ playoff opener in just more than two weeks. The Pro Bowl blocker hopes to return by then, Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com notes. Jermon Bushrod started for Armstead during his initial hiatus.
  • These playoffs will be it for Ben Watson. The tight end playing another season could have made him the first pure tight end to play at age 39, unless Antonio Gates returns in 2019, but Watson will retire after the season — his 15th.

Failed Trades: Beasley, Fowler, Jets, Jags

After the trade deadline passes each year, there are inevitably reports about the trades that were discussed but never consummated. For instance, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that teams were trying to trade for Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley (video link). Beasley has just one sack this year, and he has regressed considerably since his First Team All-Pro performance in 2016, but Atlanta believes it can make the playoffs this season, and it was not prepared to move a foundational piece like Beasley, who is under contract through 2019 via the fifth-year option.

Now for more reports concerning trades that never happened, which nonetheless shed some light on the teams that declined to make the deals, the clubs that tried to make the deals, and the players themselves:

  • The Jets, desperate for pass rushing help, inquired on former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler over the summer, and they tried again at last week’s trade deadline, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details. The Rams ultimately acquired Fowler in exchange for a 2019 third-rounder and 2020 fifth-rounder, and while the Jets submitted a similar offer about a half hour before the 4pm deadline on October 30, they also wanted a fourth-rounder to come back to them. As such, Jacksonville pulled the trigger on the Rams’ offer.
  • Interestingly, before dealing him to the Saints in August, the Jets offered quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Jaguars in a one-for-one swap for Fowler, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Jacksonville rebuffed that proposal, even though it knew that Fowler was probably on the way out, and given their QB struggles, that decision may have made a major difference in the Jags’ season.
  • Fowler may not have been the Rams‘ first choice for pass rushing help. We already knew that Los Angeles had made a significant offer for Khalil Mack before he was dealt to the Bears, but Schefter writes that the Rams also called the Texans to discuss Jadeveon Clowney in the first weeks of the season, and as late as last week, they made a push to acquire the BillsJerry Hughes.
  • Several teams, including the Eagles, called the Jets in an effort to acquire deep threat Robby Anderson, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (Twitter link). However, Gang Green opted to hold on to Anderson because the development of Sam Darnold remains the team’s top priority, and it did not want to remove one of Darnold’s biggest weapons.

Extra Points: Steelers, Jaguars, Saints, Bills

Running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is hoping incumbent back James Conner will retain a role within the club’s offense even after Bell returns. “I will push for James to get as much run as we can because we’ve seen some great things from him in all phases of football,” Roethlisberger told Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s picking up blitzes, he’s catching the ball, he’s running hard and making plays and playing with a passion, so we need to keep using that.” Conner, a third-round pick in 2017, is currently fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts and seventh in rushing yards, and he’s scored five times on the ground.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • T.J. Yeldon has been the primary ball-carrier for the Jaguars while Leonard Fournette deals with a hamstring injury, and that doesn’t figure to change even after Jacksonville signed veteran running back Jamaal Charles earlier this week, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). The Jaguars also added running back David Williams off the Broncos’ practice squad, and while they could look to slightly lighten Yeldon’s load, he’ll still remain the main option in Jacksonville’s backfield. With Corey Grant injured last Sunday, Yeldon handled 92% of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps, managing 122 total yards and one touchdown in the process.
  • The Saints added two voidable years to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s contract after acquiring him from the Jets earlier this year, and Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link) has provided a few more details on the restructure. Bridgewater’s deal will automatically void 10 days prior to the start of the 2019 league year next March, so his 2019 and 2020 base salaries — each of which is valued at $22MM — will never factor into New Orleans’ books. However, once Bridgewater’s contract voids, his future signing bonus proration will immediately accelerate onto the Saints’ salary cap, meaning the club will take on an extra $2.71MM next spring.
  • Derek Anderson‘s one-year deal with the Bills is worth a prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum of $1.015MM, tweets Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Anderson received a minimum salary benefit deal, meaning he’ll only count against Buffalo’s salary cap at the rate of a second-year player plus his signing bonus, which accounts for a total cap charge of $503,326. The 35-year-old Anderson spent the past seven seasons as a backup to Cam Newton in Carolina, and attempted just 168 passes during that time. He’ll mentor rookie quarterback Josh Allen in Buffalo.

Saints, Teddy Bridgewater Restructure Contract

The Saints have created $2.71MM in cap space by restructuring quarterback Teddy Bridgewater‘s contract, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Bridgewater, whom New Orleans acquired (along with a sixth-round pick) from the Jets last month in exchange for a third-rounder, had been due a base salary of $5MM. The Saints converted just over $4MM of his salary into a signing bonus, but because Bridgewater is on a one-year deal, the club also had to add two voidable years to the end of the contract. That allows New Orleans to spread out some of Bridgwater’s cap hit (for now).

The Saints’ front office is known for kicking the can down the road financially, and while moving a bit of Bridgewater’s money to future years isn’t as odious as some of the club’s previous contract errors, his salary will hit New Orleans’ cap at some point. Specifically, the Saints will be docked cap space in 2019 when Bridgewater’s one-year deal voids after the season.

Bridgewater will serve as Drew Brees‘ backup in 2018, but it’s unclear if the Saints view Bridgewater as Brees’ heir and therefore want to sign him to an extension. If Bridgewater is forced to play this season, he could earn up to $9MM via performance and playtime incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints GM Discusses Potential Bridgewater Extension

When Teddy Bridgewater was traded to the Saints yesterday, some pundits wondered whether the 26-year-old would take over as the starter once Drew Brees decided to call it a career. However, general manager Mickey Loomis cautioned that the team isn’t in any hurry to extend the quarterback, who is currently playing on a one-year deal.

“Well, I think it’s one step at a time,” Loomis said (via Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune on Twitter). “The first step is getting him here and getting to know him as a player and as a person and vice versa.”

The general manager also said it was “premature” to assume Bridgewater would be the heir apparent to Brees.

Of course, Loomis presumably doesn’t want to count his chickens before they hatch, but we can probably assume that the Saints traded for Bridgewater thinking he’d one day take over the starting gig. After all, New Orleans sent the Jets a third-rounder, which seems to be the going rate for a lower-end starting quarterback (the Browns sent the Bills a third for Tyrod Taylor). While the Saints also received a sixth-rounder in the trade, they presumably wouldn’t have given up valuable draft capital if they didn’t envision a future with Bridgewater.

Secondly, the team’s other backup quarterbacks haven’t shown a whole lot of promise during their NFL careers. With Drew Brees approaching his 40th birthday, the organization probably didn’t feel good about a potential future with Tom Savage, J.T. Barrett, or Taysom Hill under center.

At the very least, Bridgewater has already shown that he can be a competent NFL quarterback, and he seems to be recovered from a knee injury that forced him to miss the 2016 season and most of the 2017 campaign. In three preseason games, Bridgewater has completed 73.7-percent of his passes for 316 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Trade Teddy Bridgewater To Saints

The Saints have acquired quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Jets, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Jets will send Bridgewater and a sixth-round pick to the Saints for a third-round pick, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). 

Bridgewater, who doesn’t turn 26 until November, joined the Jets in March on a one-year deal. Now, he’ll serve as the primary backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans. It’s not immediately clear what the trade means for Taysom Hill, who is under contract through 2019, or Tom Savage, who is on a one-year deal with the club. In all likelihood, Savage is on the verge of being released or traded.

For the Jets, the move signals a tremendous amount of confidence in rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. It’s likely that Darnold will be the team’s Week 1 starter, despite a tough early schedule, with veteran Josh McCown as his understudy.

Bridgewater may be a better quarterback than McCown in 2018, but McCown wouldn’t have fetched much in a trade due to his one-year, $10MM contract. The Jets also value McCown’s veteran leadership and mentorship to Darnold.

Jets players were notified of the trade on Wednesday afternoon when they were on the team bus, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears. Just before they were about to depart, Bridgewater was informed of the trade and said goodbye to his teammates.

Bridgewater has impressed this offseason and shown no ill effects of the devastating injury that wiped out his 2016 campaign. In two years as the Vikings’ starter, Bridgewater completed 65% of his passes and averaged 3,075 yards, 14 touchdowns, and ten interceptions.

In three preseason games this year, Bridgewater has completed 28-of-38 throws (73.7%) for 316 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Bridgewater, Patriots, Dolphins

Here are some assorted notes from around the AFC as we wrap up the weekend…

  • The Broncos will have two major roster questions to answer prior to Saturday’s roster cut-down deadline, opines Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. First, the team has to figure out what to do with injured safety Su’a Cravens. The defensive back hasn’t practice since early August due to knee soreness, and he hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since late 2016. O’Halloran wonders if the team will have the roster space or patience to stash Cravens again. Meanwhile, the team will also have to decide on quarterback Paxton Lynch, who was recently demoted for Chad Kelly. The writer wonders whether the Broncos would rather keep the former first-rounder, replace him with a veteran backup, or roll with two quarterbacks for the start of the season.
  • Unless they receive an offer they can’t refuse, ESPN’s Rich Cimini believes the Jets should hold on to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The team should be focused on maintaining their depth, and the writer believes the signal-caller has more value to the team as a backup than a trade chip. If the Jets accept an offer that doesn’t include a third-rounder or better, Cimini believes it’d be a mistake. The writer also looks at several former Jets draft picks who are on the roster bubble, including linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, wide receivers Charone Peake and Chad Hansen, and cornerback Juston Burris.
  • ESPN’s Mike Reiss can’t envision the Patriots adding wideout Dez Bryant. While the team could certainly use some reinforcement at the position (especially following Eric Decker‘s decision to retire), the writer question whether Bryant would be able to fit into the culture or system. If the team did want to add another wideout to their roster, Reiss believes that free agent (and former Patriot) Brandon LaFell would be a more logical target. Even in that case, the writer can’t see the team making a move unless there’s an injury at the position.
  • While the pairing of David Fales and Brock Osweiler may be relatively underwhelming, Dolphins coach Adam Gase isn’t expecting to add another backup quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill. While the coach would like to see some improvement from his co-second-stringers, he’s not concerned about their lackluster preseasons. “I think there’s room for improvement for sure,” Gase said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com), “but it’s hard to put it all on them when you get the ball and you’re not expecting it or we’re not blocking the guys. That’s why it’s hard to evaluate quarterbacks sometimes in preseason games and you have to use all your practice time and what you know about guys’ history, and that’s what makes it tough to evaluate them sometimes.”

Latest On Jets QB Teddy Bridgewater

At least two teams have expressed interest in trading for Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Manish Mehta of the Daily News hears. Still, there have been no concrete offers just yet, so there’s still some work to be done before the mobile QB is potentially moved. 

[RELATED: Jets GM Open To Teddy Bridgewater Trade?]

After a devastating injury wiped out Bridgewater’s 2016 season and nearly ended his career, the QB landed with the Jets this offseason on a one-year, $6MM deal. Bridgewater has impressed and shown no ill effects from that malady, but the Jets are willing to listen to offers since rookie Sam Darnold has also performed well. Multiple teams are eyeing Bridgewater as a top flight insurance policy under center, and the Jets can afford to part with him thanks to the presence of veteran Josh McCown.

We don’t know which teams have called on Bridgewater, but there are several clubs around the league that could use a good fallback option. Two of those clubs – the Patriots and Dolphins – are in the Jets’ division, and it’s unclear whether GM Mike Maccagnan would be willing to make a deal with an AFC East rival. Speculatively, the Broncos,Jaguars, Steelers, and Panthers could also see Bridgewater as a fit.

Through two preseason games, Bridgewater has completed 17-of-23 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns against one interception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets GM Open To Teddy Bridgewater Trade?

The Jets are not locked in to keeping their three quarterbacks to start the season. In a radio interview, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan acknowledged that he is open to trading – or releasing – one of his QBs. 

There’s nothing to stop us from keeping three and there’s nothing to stop us from keeping two,” Maccagnan said (Twitter link via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com).

Of course, No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold is staying put, and it’s hard to imagine the Jets getting much for 39-year-old Josh McCown, who is set to earn $10MM this year. The odd man out – if there is one – is Teddy Bridgewater. Maccagnan also praised the “unflappable” Darnold, which is yet another sign that they might have enough confidence in the rookie to start him in Week 1 and remove one of his safety nets.

Bridgewater has looked sharp this offseason and he unquestionably has trade value. For the right offer, it sounds like the Jets are willing to pull the trigger.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Darnold, Dolphins

If it wasn’t apparent Thursday night, when Sam Darnold received his first preseason start, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv notes many in the Jets organization want the rookie to start in Week 1. Taking this route would likely mean Gang Green finding a trade partner for Teddy Bridgewater, and given the way he’s looked thus far, there are surely some teams who will be interested.

However, Vacchiano adds that Bridgewater “intrigues” Todd Bowles. Josh McCown isn’t likely to receive much preseason work, but Vacchiano notes that’s not indicative of his performance. Bowles observed McCown work throughout last season, so he knows what he has in the 39-year-old incumbent.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • A few Dolphins players on the bubble have made a case for strong consideration in the past couple of weeks, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Suddenly, players previously thought to be facing long odds like defensive end Jonathan Woodard and wide receiver Francis Owusu have a real chance at making the cut. If Owusu makes the cut, that could spell bad news for former third-round pick Leonte Carroo.
  • More from Jackson, who writes that the Dolphins are unlikely trade for Bridgewater, despite their previous interest in him. The Jets QB is on a one-year deal worth $5MM and could make a lot more through incentives, so the Dolphins are unlikely to pay out that contract and give up a draft pick unless a big need develops. That need has yet to develop as Ryan Tannehill is healthy and David Fales continues to look solid in reserve.
  • On Friday morning, the Patriots learned that first-round pick Isaiah Wynn is done for the season.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.