Teddy Bridgewater is creating quite a buzz at Jets OTAs. New York needs to make sure they resist the temptation to trade the quarterback too soon.
Sam Darnold is absolutely the New York Jets’ quarterback of the future. There are serious questions about who the team’s quarterback of the present is though. The team needs to make sure it holds on to Teddy Bridgewater until that question is definitely answered.
ESPN reports claim the former Vikings signal caller has a chance to enter the season as the team’s starting quarterback. That might be overstating things a bit, but as Pro Football Talk reports, his stock is “trending upward.” That gives the Jets front office some interesting choices to make at the quarterback position.
Heading into OTAs most team officials expected Josh McCown and Darnold to compete for the starting position. The team’s preference seemed to be that McCown start the beginning of the season to help Darnold acclimate to life in the NFL. Bridgewater wasn’t expected to be a huge factor. After all, he nearly lost his leg after a horrific leg injury during training camp in 2016. The Jets decided to give him a chance this summer, but the team protected itself by handing Bridgewater an incentive-laden deal.
Regardless of what the Jets front office thought Bridgewater would do initially, it’s clear he’s exceeded those expectations. Now New York needs to figure out what they’re going to do with their quarterback group. Some have suggested that Bridgewater should be traded before the season begins. That would be a serious misstep by the Jets.
The appeal of dealing Bridgewater now is that New York could acquire a meaningful asset while the injury-prone quarterback is actually healthy. There’s always a chance that the quarterback could suffer an injury and his value would disappear in an instant. That’s a risk the Jets should be willing to take.
The upside to keeping Bridgewater into the regular season is pretty significant. Right now, many NFL executives still have serious doubts about just how healthy he is. Only the Jets coaches and select media members have gotten a chance to watch him throw in OTAs. Until Bridgewater faces a live opponent there’s going to be a healthy amount of skepticism about just how good he’s playing. That will, of course, suppress his current trade value.
Giving other teams a chance to watch him in preseason would absolutely give Bridgewater a chance to really raise his stock. It would also give other teams an opportunity to suffer injuries at the NFL’s most crucial position. A team in need of a starter could see Bridgewater play well in the preseason and become enthralled with the possibility of adding them to their roster. That’s the best possible scenario for the Jets to receive a quality asset for his services.
There’s also a distinct possibility that Bridgewater might be the Jets’ best quarterback at the moment. Josh McCown may be a known quantity but he is a league average quarterback at best. It’s much more likely that he’s one of the NFL’s ten worst quarterbacks if he’s forced into being a starter.
Darnold has a ton of talent, but he’s still a rookie. There’s no guarantee he’s going to be ready for meaningful snaps this season. That isn’t an indictment about his ability, it’s just a comment on his lack of experience. The difference between USC and the NFL is very significant. Rushing him into action before he’s ready could ruin his career before it really gets a chance to begin.
Keeping Bridgewater until the preseason begins in earnest gives the Jets the best chance to maximize him as an asset. They can do that if he emerges as their starter or if he plays well enough to increase his trade value. Moving Bridgewater too quickly just doesn’t make sense for the franchise’s ability to capitalize on his abilities.