Bridgewater connected on 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown, and an interception during Sunday's 33-14 loss to the Panthers. He added 12 yards on four carries. Bridgewater hadn't completed a pass since 2015 and had attempted just three in regular-season action since then, so some rust was to be expected. Still, it was a feel-good story to see him loft a nine-yard touchdown to Tre'Quan Smith early in the fourth quarter, the game already well under control. The feel-goodery probably ends there. If all goes to plan for New Orleans, Sunday will have featured Bridgewater's last meaningful snaps of the season.
Bridgewater will start Sunday's game against the Panthers, Josh Katzenstein of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Coach Sean Payton made the announcement Friday afternoon, confirming Drew Brees won't play again until the divisional round of the playoffs. Making his first start since the end of the 2015 season, Bridgewater has an excellent opportunity to improve his value before his one-year contract expires. Of course, he'll probably spend much of the game playing with other backups, with Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram unlikely to handle their usual workloads if they even play at all.
Bridgewater will likely see action on offense Sunday against the Panthers, as coach Sean Payton is expected to rest a number of key regulars with the Saints having clinched the NFC's top seed, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports. Payton hasn't officially revealed his intentions for the regular-season finale, but his prior history in Week 17s when the Saints' playoff seeding has been secure suggests top signal-caller Drew Brees won't be pressed into extensive duty. Triplett notes that when the Saints were locked in as the No. 1 seed in 2009 and the No. 2 seed in 2006 heading into those respective season finales, Payton rested starters on both occasions. Further influencing Payton's case to follow that plan again is the fact that after four down performances in a row, Brees got back on track in the Week 16 win over the Steelers with his sixth 300-yard performance of the season. In addition to keeping the 39-year-old healthy for the divisional round, resting Brees would have the added benefit of giving the Saints a longer look at Bridgewater, who might be viewed as a successor to the aging veteran. Bridgewater will hit in free agency in March and could increase his earning potential with the Saints or another team if he turns in a quality showing versus Carolina.
Saints head coach Sean Payton said Thursday that Bridgewater is locked in as the team's top backup quarterback and would be first in line to start if Drew Brees were unavailable at any point this season, Luke Johnson of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Given that second-year signal-caller Taysom Hill is unproven at the NFL level outside of preseason action, there was never much doubt that Bridgewater would capture the top backup role after the Saints acquired him from the Jets on Aug. 29. It's more noteworthy, however, that Payton indicated Bridgewater entered Week 1 as the team's top backup, with the coach praising the 25-year-old for how quickly he picked up the playbook. Though Bridgewater has apparently impressed the Saints' staff in practices and in the film room, it's difficult to envision him logging meaningful snaps this season with Brees being one of the NFL's more durable starters over the last several years.
The Jets agreed Wednesday to trade Bridgewater and a future sixth-round draft pick to the Saints in exchange for a future third-round pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. With Sam Darnold making a strong case for the starting job and Josh McCown also on their roster, the Jets were always inclined to explore trade options for Bridgewater, who boosted his value by completing 28 of 38 passes for 316 yards with two touchdowns and one interception this preseason. The 25-year-old isn't exactly getting the opportunity he probably had been hoping for, as he'll be stuck behind Drew Brees in New Orleans this season. It's unclear if the Saints view Bridgewater as a potential long-term successor or merely a one-year insurance policy. Whatever the case, Bridgewater is signed to a one-year, $6 million contract, of which at least $500,000 has already been paid by the Jets.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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