Although coach Sean Payton has refused to commit to a full-time starter in the aftermath of Drew Brees requiring thumb surgery, sources said that veteran Teddy Bridgewater will be taking over moving forward for a stretch of games that could last through a Week 8 bye.
Payton, who is wisely leaving things open to keep opponents guessing, has a deep reserve of plays to draw upon, and will not hesitate to put jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill on the field under center for various tricky packages. But Bridgewater, who has $5.25 million in incentives tied to playing time and performance this season, will be the primary quarterback, sources said, for his week's game against Seattle and moving forward. The team is not committing to an exact timeframe for Brees' recovery, though sources said it is at least a six-week process and possibly longer.
Brees was unable to pick up a football, let alone throw one, after banging his hand violently into Rams star tackle Aaron Donald in last week's loss, and multiple specialists advised he undergo surgery to repair the thumb, which occurred last week. Payton traded for Bridgewater from the Jets last year with the intention of having a top insurance policy should Brees go down for a portion of a season, and Bridgewater, a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2014, re-signed with New Orleans rather than go to a lesser team where he could start (Miami was his top suitor, sources said), because he believed the caliber of coaching and development in New Orleans was best suited to helping him make up for the years he lost to a career-threatening knee injury.
Bridgewater, still just 26, suffered a gruesome injury at practice with the Vikings prior to the 2016 season, with initial concern that his leg may need to be amputated, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. His recovery lasted multiple years, during which time his mother battled cancer, with him earning praise around the league for his positive attitude and determination.
Now he gets an opportunity to in essence audition for the entire league as a starter for weeks on end with a top play-caller and impressive array of teammates around him on a team with Super Bowl ambitions. Bridgewater's one-year deal is worth $7.25 million and he earns $2.5 million if he plays 50% of the snaps and the team reaches the playoffs. He also has incentives for passing yards (starting at 2,500), touchdowns (starting at 10) and he can earn up to $1 million should he play half the snaps in any playoff game ($250,000 per game).