The last few years have been difficult to say the last for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but the 25-year-old Pro Bowler may very well be returning to form with the New York Jets.
After being selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 32nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater quickly established himself as a quarterback to watch, performing well in 2014 and 2015. He lead the Vikings to the NFL Playoffs in 2015 and was named to his first Pro Bowl.
The future appeared to be bright for the Louisville product, but his career took a traumatic turn for the worse prior to the start of the 2016 season when, during a team practice on Aug. 30, 2016, he suffered a gruesome non-contact leg injury. Following an MRI, the injury proved to be as bad as it looked, as it was confirmed that Bridgwater had torn his left ACL, while also dislocating his knee joint and suffering other structural damage.
Bridgewater would end up missing the entirety of the 2016 campaign while appearing in just one game in 2017 that saw him attempt only two passes with one turning out to be an interception. The Vikings elected to decline Bridgewater’s fifth-year option, which made him a free agent following the 2017 season.
His future, however, remained incredibly unclear.
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Though as the months dragged on and Bridgewater continued his rehabilitation, a chance at redemption emerged, as he signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets on March 18, 2018. The deal, which appeared as nothing more than a low-risk high reward chance for the Jets, only guaranteed Bridgewater $500,000, though he does have the opportunity to earn up to $15 million.
Essentially, Bridgewater was betting on himself, looking for a fresh start and a chance to prove that he could return to the form that had many thinking he could one day serve as an elite level quarterback. And for the Jets, who also have veteran signal-caller Josh McCown and No. 3 overall draft pick Sam Darnold under contract, the acquisition is slowly proving itself to be a beneficial one – at least in the early days of mandatory minicamp, which began this week.
According to a report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini, which seems to agree with those of various others with ties to the Jets, Bridgewater has done nothing but impress thus far. His knee hasn’t appeared to slow him down in the slightest, as he’s practiced fully with the team for the last four weeks.
And in regards to the physical state of his knee, Bridgewater hasn’t said much, but his happiness with being back on the field can’t be hidden. Here’s what he said directly from Cimini’s article:
“This game means a lot to me,” Bridgewater said. “I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old. It brought tears to my eyes because it showed me you’re never out of it, you’re never out of the fight. There were dark days throughout my rehab process. When you’re rehabbing, the light seems so far at the end of the tunnel. But to be able to see that light and make it to the light. which is being active and standing on that sideline with my gear on, it kind of hit me a little.
“I joked around with my agent, my adviser, and told them I’m a tough guy, I won’t cry, but reality set in and it was truly a blessing to be back out there and continue to live your dream.”
As Bridgewater continues to live out his dream and continues to progress on the gridiron, the Jets’ quarterback picture will only become more interesting. McCown is still expected to start at the beginning of the season and Darnold remains the team’s future at the position. Bridgewater is still young and if he continues to remind those within the organization of just how good he can be, he could very well find himself in a more prominent position with the Jets.