What are the advantages and disadvantages of the New England Patriots adding Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback if Tom Brady leaves in free agency?
If Philip Rivers represents the best option for the New England Patriots in a post-Tom Brady world when it comes to veteran, stopgap, “bridge” QBs, then there’s little doubt that Teddy Bridgewater could represent the best post-Brady option for the Pats if they’re looking for a long-term potential answer at the position this spring.
Obviously, there’s still a young option on New England’s current roster in last year’s draft pick Jarrett Stidham out of Auburn. Stidham looked fantastic during training camp and the preseason, flashing poise well beyond his years.
During the regular season, he sort of fell back to earth. Granted, he only saw limited action in relief of Brady, throwing just four passes and completing three of them. Unfortunately, one of those three “completions” was to New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who returned it to the house for a pick-six in Foxborough.
Rookie growing pains? Of course. There’s still a lot to like about Stidham, and there’s a lot more to find out about the second-year player. We still don’t know just how Bill Belichick views him at this point — was he drafted as extra insurance behind Brady, or was he drafted as a potential heir?
Either way, there are those reports out there that have suggested the Patriots plan to draft a quarterback next month regardless of what happens with Brady — or, to a lesser extent, regardless of how they view Stidham right now.
Even with a younger QB coming in this April to compete with Stidham in training camp, it might make sense for the Pats to go after someone like Bridgewater — especially if they’re not enamored with any of the draft targets this April and/or with Stidham and/or with the veterans and free agents who could be available currently around the league.
Make no mistake, the best possible path forward for the Pats in 2020 and beyond is to retain Tom Brady. Not only is it the best story from a feel-good sense, it also makes the most logical sense of all possibilities. Brady is better than anyone the Pats might try to add this spring, and he still represents the team’s best shot at winning a seventh Super Bowl title either in 2020 or 2021 (or in a dream world, in both).
But sooner or later (hopefully later), Brady is going to retire and leave the NFL for good. When that time comes, New England will need a young player under center who can hopefully carry on his legacy and keep the Patriots relevant.
If all goes according to plan, the transition will look more like what happened when Indy went from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, when Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, or when San Fran went from Joe Montana to Steve Young … and less like what happened in Buffalo and Miami when Jim Kelly and Dan Marino stepped away.
Even situations like what Denver and Dallas have endured post-John Elway and Troy Aikman would be okay for most Pats fans. While the Broncos have won just one title since Elway retired (with Manning) and the Cowboys haven’t won any, both teams have managed to more or less stay relevant and competitive throughout the 2000s and 2010s thanks to QBs like Manning, Tony Romo, and Dak Prescott.
Bridgewater could be the guy to help New England maintain a similar trajectory. If Brady does end up signing with another team in the coming weeks, the Pats will need to make a decision on whether they want a veteran QB to serve as a one or two-year rental while they groom their chosen replacement, or if they want to go young and try and ascertain that replacement right from the get-go in 2020.
If they choose to go the latter route, they could do a whole lot worse than Bridgewater. He’s just 27 years old, he’s fresh off guiding the New Orleans Saints to five straight wins in the games he started for an injured Drew Brees, and he’s arguably the closest available comparison to Brady in terms of his overall game.
Bridgewater is a classic dropback pocket passer. He’s not particularly mobile nor is he particularly durable, but he’s extremely careful and accurate with the football. He puts nice touch on his passes, he’s a hard worker, and he’s extremely intelligent. In short, he’d fit in well under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots.
The only downside is his injury history. At one point not so very long ago, there was real speculation that his career might be over following a devastating left leg injury suffered during the lead-up to the 2016 season.
He did finally return late in the 2017 season and has managed to stay injury-free since his return, but he’s also only appeared in 15 games during the past three seasons. There’s not a whole lot of sample size for how his knee and his body overall would hold up over the course of a full season.