Posted on August 29, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After beginning the preseason with a three-way competition at the quarterback position, the New York Jets appear to have made their decision. On Wednesday, the Jets traded Teddy Bridgewater and a 6th-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for a 3rd-round pick. With Bridgewater out of the picture, it’s all but guaranteed that rookie Sam Darnold will be the starter in Week 1. Bridgewater, meanwhile, is destined to be the back up to Drew Brees for the upcoming season.
Both Bridgewater and Darnold have impressed during the preseason. Bridgewater has posted slightly better numbers, completing 74% of his passes for 8.3 yards per attempt. However, Darnold has undoubtedly turned heads. After the team’s second preseason game, there were rumblings that the Jets were open to trading one of their three quarterbacks, which indicated that they favored Darnold. With the regular season a week and a half away, the Jets have pulled the trigger on just such a deal.
One can argue whether Darnold has outplayed Bridgewater during the preseason. But with the Jets rebuilding, there’s not a lot of upside in starting Bridgewater, who signed with the team on a one-year deal. With Darnold expected to be the future of the franchise, the Jets have decided to roll the dice on the rookie. Even if Darnold isn’t ready to consistently lead the Jets to wins in the NFL, he will gain valuable experience by beginning the 2018 season as the starting quarterback.
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Bridgewater, meanwhile, has gone from competing for a starting job to now knowing that he will be a backup in New Orleans. The Saints have seen both Tom Savage and Taysom Hill show promise during the preseason. However, both have also struggled at times. Bridgewater has more experience than either and has looked healthy during the preseason after spending the last two years recovering from a horrible knee injury. He is no doubt a more reliable backup to the 39-year old Brees.
“We are excited to add Teddy Bridgewater to our team,” said Saints coach Sean Payton said in a statement. “We look forward to working with him and watching him continue to develop as a player.”
The Saints could view Bridgewater as the eventual successor to Brees. At age 25, Bridgewater’s best years are likely ahead of him if he can stay healthy. While he is only signed to a one-year deal and could explore free agency after the season if he wants, the Saints may offer him a long-term contract to stay. Brees is signed through the 2019 season, so Bridgewater may have to wait until 2020 to get his chance. However, there’s no guarantee that Brees will stay one more year depending on how this season plays out for him.
In the end, this trade has a chance to pay off for both teams. The Jets only paid $6 million to sign Bridgewater and they will end up getting a third-round pick for him while also relieving themselves of most of that contract. The Saints, meanwhile, add a quality backup for their aging quarterback. It’s also possible that they acquired their quarterback of the future. Of course, for Bridgewater, the trade means more waiting on the sidelines rather than finally getting his chance to start. But if his performance during the preseason is any indication, Bridgewater’s career in the NFL is far from over.