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The New York Jets are trading quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the New Orleans Saints, according to ESPN and NFL Network. The teams confirmed the deal Wednesday afternoon.
New Orleans gave the Jets a third-round pick in the deal, while the Jets also surrendered a sixth-round pick.
Bridgewater, 25, signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Jets earlier this year. He has drawn raves for his play in training camp and in preseason games, but New York drafted Sam Darnold at No. 3 earlier this year and have Josh McCown to mentor him and serve as backup, giving the team the opportunity to trade Bridgewater elsewhere.
Bridgewater trade raises questions
While this move makes sense for New Orleans in the short term, as Bridgewater is certainly a far better Plan B if Drew Brees gets hurt than current backup Tom Savage, it brings up a lot of questions, too.
Why didn’t the Saints just sign Bridgewater in free agency six months ago? Because of the uncertainty of how he’d play coming back from his horrific left knee injury, Bridgewater didn’t have a huge market. New Orleans could have signed him in free agency and not had to give up a third-round draft pick (the Saints already don’t currently have a first-round pick next year).
For reference, the Browns and Washington each gave up third-round picks to acquire Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith, respectively, and each of those quarterbacks are the stated starters for those teams this season.
How much will Bridgewater play?
If recent history is any indication, he won’t. Brees took every snap last season and in 2016, and has missed just two games in 12 seasons with the Saints, and at least one of those was when he got the regular-season finale off before the postseason.
What happens at the end of this season? Bridgewater is only signed for one year. Brees is currently signed for this season and 2019, signing a two-year, $50 million extension in March. If New Orleans sees Bridgewater as Brees’ successor, will it try to sign Bridgewater to a team-friendly extension during the season? Or will it franchise tag Bridgewater for 2019, at a cost of well over $20 million, while still paying $23 million?
If the Saints let Bridgewater walk after this season, they will get a compensatory pick back, but there’s no guarantee it would be a third-rounder.
Jets, Saints made unexpected move
While there have been rumblings for days that the Jets would likely leverage Bridgewater’s strong preseason to trade him to another team, whether before the regular-season or during, if another team’s starter got injured, there was no knowing when that might happen.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Jets players were loaded onto team buses Wednesday afternoon — they play in Philadelphia on Thursday night — when news of the trade was announced.
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