New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater got a healthy dose of nostalgia when he faced his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, in his preseason opener. It is safe to say that he has come a long way since his time with the Vikings… and the injury which halted his career.
Minnesota traded up to take Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He quickly justified the Vikings’ investment by showing plenty of promise as a future franchise quarterback during his rookie year. He followed it up by earning Pro Bowl honors in his first full season as a starter in 2015.
Unfortunately, the former Louisville product’s career was derailed by a devastating knee injury that kept him sidelined for the better part of two seasons. Despite plenty of speculation on his future in the NFL, he has since made tremendous progress in pursuit of a potential comeback.
The Saints acquired Bridgewater from the New York Jets in an effort to establish quality depth under center behind Drew Brees. While playing behind a quarterback of Brees’ caliber has not provided him many opportunities to get on the field, he was able to make his first start since 2015 in last year’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers. Although the Saints lost the game, he certainly made the most of it by completing 14-of-22 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Fortunately, the 26-year-old does not seem to mind his limited role in New Orleans. He is aware of the need to be patient, mindful of the reality that his body isn’t undergoing much punishment, which could act as a source of stability.
Bridgewater solidified the notion that he is a patient man when he turned down an opportunity to compete for a starting job on a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins this offseason. He opted to sign a one-year deal to stay with the Saints instead.
With Brees slated to play very rarely in the preseason, Bridgewater will once again have ample opportunities to show his skill set. He got off to a tremendous start in the opener versus the Vikings by playing the entire first half and completing 14-of-19 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in the loss. More importantly, the mobility he displayed has helped him prove that any concerns about the knee are long behind him.
There is no denying that his sample size since coming back is still far too small to determine whether he is poised to successfully lead a team as the starter. Regardless, a number of quarterback-hungry teams should be willing to take a chance.
Despite the Saints’ efforts to keep Bridgewater around as the backup, his time in New Orleans could be coming to an end in the near future. Brees may be in the final stretch of his career; however, he still appears to be near the top of his game after being voted by his peers as the best quarterback in the NFL’s Top 100 Players in 2019.
Bridgewater still has a long way to go before putting the exclamation mark on a successful comeback attempt; however, it is safe to say that he has taken the necessary steps to ensure his success.