The New York Jets are finalizing a deal with quarterback Teddy Bridgwater, per CBS Sports’ Bryant McFadden.
It comes hours after top free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins chose to join Bridgwater’s former team, the Minnesota Vikings on a three-year deal worth $86 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Cousins was the Jets first option in free agency to take over under center and supply the team with the franchise quarterback the organization has been without for the better part of five decades.
While the Jets had more money to offer with an estimated salary cap around $100 million, they didn’t have the kind of contender that Cousins could step into and immediately find success with. That prospect of rebuilding could have been the main reason as to why he chose the Vikings over the Jets.
That made Bridgewater New York’s new top priority in free agency as other notable quarterbacks flew off the shelf. Case Keenum is joining the Denver Broncos while Sam Bradford is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals.
The 25-year-old Bridgewater has appeared in just one game since the 2015 season due to knee injuries, stunting his development in the NFL after putting together a Pro-Bowl campaign. During that 2015 season, Bridgewater went 11-5 as Minnesota’s starter, passing for 3,231 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing over 65-percent of his passes.
It is still remarkable that he is still in the league and poised to become a starting quarterback again after a dislocated knee during training camp prior to the 2016 season almost led to the amputation of his leg.
He will be joining a Jets team with plenty of question marks when it comes to talent on the offensive side of the ball. Robby Anderson, whose future with the team could be in doubt after a number of off-field issues, was the team’s surprising leading receiver last year. The undrafted free agent out of Temple put up 941 yards and seven touchdowns.
The team did acquire Jermaine Kearse last season from the Seattle Seahawks to add an experienced receiver with a winning pedigree to help mold the Jets receiving unit, which should be a big help for Bridgewater.
But there likely will be an acclimation period for the quarterback after such an extended stay away from regular-season action. Along with his injury history, the Jets should look for insurance options if Bridgewater struggles or he runs into health concerns.
McCown is a free agent that could probably be brought back on a cheap deal. Going 5-8 as a starter while putting up a career-high 2,926 yards and 18 interceptions captained New York to a 5-8 record as a starter, a surprising mark for a team expected to compete with the winless Cleveland Browns for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Instead, a 5-11 record has the Jets choosing sixth in the draft, a pick that could be used on one of a number of promising first-round-caliber quarterbacks whether it be USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield or Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
It would ensure the Jets have plenty of depth and insurance at the position should their plans of making Bridgewater a franchise quarterback go awry.