Tuesday, May 2, is the deadline for NFL teams to pick up the fifth-year contract option for players drafted in the first round in 2014. We’ve already seen news that some players, like that year’s No. 1 pick, Jadeveon Clowney, and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, among others, have had their option exercised by their respective teams.
But at least one player may not, and in this instance it serves as another stark reminder that the NFL is a business before anything else.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday morning that the Minnesota Vikings are not likely to pick up the option on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s deal. You no doubt remember that Bridgewater missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL and dislocating his left knee during a training camp practice.
Schefter writes that the Vikings could re-sign Bridgewater, but picking up the 2018 option means guaranteeing a salary of over $11 million for that season.
“The injury guarantee makes it tough to do,” a source told Schefter.
Last month, shortly after Bridgewater posted a short video of himself on Instagram, throwing to an unknown receiver, Minnesota GM Rick Spielman praised Bridgewater’s effort and work ethic as he rehabs from his injury; Bridgewater has been rehabbing primarily in Florida, but spends one week a month at the team’s facility with its training and medical staff.
“I know he’s been working extremely hard,” Spielman said. “As far as timeline, I know he was in last week and continuing to rehab with our medical staff and [Vikings’ head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman. I can tell you, there is no one I’ve seen other than Adrian [Peterson] when he came back from ACL that worked as hard as Teddy is working. And this is more significant than just an ACL.
“Teddy is incredible with the attitude and work ethic that he’s put in to get back on the field as quickly as he can.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has repeatedly praised Bridgewater as a person, and his Vikings teammates were so upset on the day Bridgewater got hurt that Zimmer made the rare move of ending the camp practice early.
But as noted by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, if Bridgewater begins the 2017 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list and remains there for the whole season, his contract tolls and carries into 2018.