The NFL career of Teddy Bridgewater is toeing the line between tragic and inspirational and might end up being a little bit of both when all is said and done. Bridgewater, a former first-round pick out of Louisville, once appeared on a trajectory to be a consistently above-average (or better) starting quarterback as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, but a devastating injury early in his career ended up being a major setback.
But it also wasn't the end of the story.
Although things never really worked out again for Bridgewater as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, he ended up signing a modest free agent deal with the New York Jets back in 2018, and he was so impressive with the Jets that current Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton -- then the coach of the New Orleans Saints -- decided to trade a third-round pick to acquire him as Drew Brees's backup (and potential successor).
And Bridgewater was impressive enough in a short stint with the Saints (six starts from 2018-19) to earn a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, a deal which included $33 million in guarantees.
One year with the Carolina Panthers ultimately led to Bridgewater getting traded to the Denver Broncos, where he played arguably the best football of his post-Vikings career. Other than the short stint with the Saints, Bridgewater actually had the Denver Broncos in pretty great position to make the postseason back in 2021. The team had a record of 7-6 and Brdigewater was injured in a 10-15 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.
That injury proved to be a season-ending injury for both Bridgewater and the Broncos as a team.
And ultimately, that 2021 season would be Bridgewater's last shot at being a starter in the NFL. He was with the Miami Dolphins in 2022 and is a member of the Detroit Lions in 2023, but Bridgewater already has one eye on 2024 and his exit plan from the NFL.
Good for Bridgewater, who has honestly carved out an impressive football career for himself all things considered. He helped the Minnesota Vikings make the playoffs as a young Pro Bowl quarterback. He suffered a very scary leg injury, but was able to get back onto the field and play quality football for a handful of NFL teams.
Not only that, but Bridgewater was still able to play well enough to earn himself nearly $60 million over the course of his near-decade in the league. Not bad at all.
Congratulations to Bridgewater on a heck of an NFL career, and there's no doubt he'll have success in the coaching ranks when he finishes playing.