The Minnesota Vikings informed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on Monday they’re declining the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. But it’s not a sign of any new revelations about Bridgewater’s injured knee or setbacks in his rehab.
Bridgewater continues to make progress and is participating in voluntary conditioning work with teammates, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Picking up the option wasn’t really an option at all, though, since that would’ve guaranteed for injury Bridgewater’s eight-figure salary in 2018 at a time he’s still not healthy, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Also Monday, the Vikings exercised the fifth-year option on linebacker Anthony Barr’s contract.
The Vikings know well the perils of the injury-guaranteed option year. When they exercised defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s option last year, they couldn’t have known that complications from knee surgery in September would cause a nerve issue that now has Floyd’s career in jeopardy. They owe him $6.757 million this season regardless of whether he plays a snap.
The likely plan is for Bridgewater to start training camp and the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, buying time for him to continue recovering and allow the Vikings to reevaluate his status come October. If Bridgewater stays on PUP all season, his contract would toll, meaning he’d still be under contract for 2018 anyway.
The Vikings publicly have declined to put any timetable on Bridgewater’s return from the injury, which occurred Aug. 30 during practice two days before the preseason finale. His left knee dislocated, leading to a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament and other structural damage – a major injury that’d require much more recovery time than just an ACL tear.
The good news was Bridgewater didn’t suffer nerve damage, and the nerve remains a nonissue, the person said.
Days after Bridgewater’s injury, the Vikings traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford, who enters 2017 as their starter. In March, the team signed former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum as the backup. They also have second-year pro Taylor Heinicke.