Teams in search of quarterback stability will look at Teddy Bridgewater the same way a kid looks at their Halloween candy haul. And it hasn’t taken long for the speculative deep dives into his future to start taking shape.
For example, Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman is ready for the Bridgewater sweepstakes to begin in earnest this offseason.
Bridgewater, 26, will have earned himself a healthy chunk of change from a quarterback-starved team when he hits free agency because of how he performed in place of Drew Brees while the Saints starting QB was out with an injury. So much so, in fact, that Freeman believes Bridgewater could command an annual average salary of $20-$30 million a year. Or to put it another way, Freeman thinks Bridgewater could snag a deal that would pay him somewhere between what Cam Newton ($20.76M AAV) and Matt Ryan ($30M AAV) are getting. That’s pretty wild.
Indeed, it’s likely that Bridgewater is the most highly sought after free agent of this class — and with good reason. He’s young, has a high-end prospect pedigree (as a 2014 first-round pick), plenty of in-game experience (34 starts), athleticism, accuracy with his throws, and noteworthy intangibles. And it doesn’t hurt to know that he’s successfully come back from the devastating knee injury that sidetracked – and nearly put an end to – his football career back in 2016.
There’s a lot to like about Bridgewater from all angles of quarterback analysis. But where is the Bears fit? A salary north of $20 million would be difficult for the Bears to squeeze in, but not impossible.
Using OverTheCap.com’s salary cap calculator to look into the future, the Bears are estimated to be over the cap by $4,821,934 million next season. So to slide a player like Bridgewater onto the roster, some big-time cuts will have to take place.
Hypothetically speaking, parting ways with Kyle Long ($8.1M projected cap gain), Cordarrelle Patterson ($5.25M), Taylor Gabriel ($4.5M), Mike Davis ($3M), Adam Shaheen ($1.27M), and Trey Burton ($1.05M) trims a ton of salary cap fat and would get the Bears to $18,349,046. That would leave pushing the likes of Leonard Floyd ($13.222M) out the door to push the Bears’ projected available space under salary cap to $31,571,046. But that would leave the Bears needing to fill seven holes just to get right at one, which would go a long way toward tearing down the team-building efforts that have mostly gone well for GM Ryan Pace.
Looking this far in the future feels like a dangerous exercise, especially since the Bears still have nine games to play this season. But because the questions surrounding quarterback position are what they are in Year 3 of the Mitch Trubisky experience, we have to keep tabs on what the market could have in store for all interested parties.