The New York Jets entered the 2018 off-season as legitimate contenders in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. The prized free agent offered teams a rare opportunity to secure a franchise quarterback on the open market. The opportunity, however, was seized by the Minnesota Vikings, and not Gang Green. In response, the Jets did end up signing a former Pro Bowl quarterback in the likes of Teddy Bridgewater. The former first-round pick appeared in one game during the Vikings’ 2017 campaign, after missing the entire 2016 campaign due to a devastating knee injury. Now healthy, Bridgewater looks to return to the form that had Vikings fans believing they had found their franchise quarterback. Interestingly, this is not the only way that the Bridgewater signing can pay dividends for the Jets.
Ways the Teddy Bridgewater Signing Can Pay Dividends for the New York Jets
Week One Starter
It is no secret that had the Jets landed Cousins, he would have been their starting quarterback in week one. This certainly was one of the most appealing aspects of a potential Cousins signing. Bridgewater, albeit capable, has been removed from action from an extended period of time. An injury as serious as the one he sustained creates uncertainty as to whether or not Bridgewater can return to form.
Yet all reports up to this point indicate no limited mobility or clear problematic regression for the new Jets signal caller. If this is the case, there is a legitimate chance that Bridgewater is under center week one for the Jets. Josh McCown is 38 years old and Jets fans will have flashbacks of Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s 2016 campaign. Third overall pick Sam Darnold is waiting in the wings, but rushing him into action would not be ideal. Bridgewater would provide all of the excitement that a new face brings, with an electrifying play style. This move would give the Jets more time to groom Darnold, without as much backlash from fans. If Bridgewater proves he is healthy in the preseason, do not be surprised to see him under center week one.
The most desirable outcome for the franchise would be to flip Bridgewater for a draft pick to a quarterback-needy team. A comparable scenario would be the Sam Bradford trade of 2016. Both quarterbacks have had success in the league, but have seen their careers hindered by injury. Bradford fetched the Eagles a first and fourth-round pick from the Vikings. This would be far more than enough for the Jets to send him away in a deal. Ironically, it was the injury to Bridgewater that forced the Vikings to pay such a hefty price for Bradford. If the Jets are offered a second round pick, or better, it is hard to imagine they will not part ways with Bridgewater.
Initial reports of Bridgewater’s signing with the Jets cited his contract as a one-year, $15 million deal. Many felt that this was a desperate move by the Jets to get a quarterback, as they had overpaid. Yet it was later revealed that the base salary in the contract is only $6 million. The other $9 million can only be earned in the form of incentives. These incentives include number of snaps played, passing yards, and making the playoffs. It’s a contract that ensures that Bridgewater either performs or makes a $6 million base salary and is free after the year. If he impresses with his play, the Jets have the first opportunity to re-sign him and have an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position. All in all, it’s an excellent move by Mike Maccagnan to create a team friendly deal with a high upside player.
Can He Fail?
The Jets made a low-risk, high-reward investment when they signed Bridgewater. It is almost impossible for them to come out as losers as a result of the signing. Still, there is a worst-case scenario. The worst possible thing that can happen for the Jets is that the injury bug once again plagues the former Vikings signal caller. This would negate any of the upside he carries going into the season, and given that his contract is only one year, the Jets would have gained nothing from the signing. Even so, the Jets would at worst break even. That type of signing is one that any general manager, or fan, should be able to get behind.