Teddy Bridgewater won’t likely hit the ground running as a New Orleans Saint, not after having joined the franchise via trade Wednesday and having missed all the offseason work, training camp and preseason.
But he won’t likely be crawling, either.
“I’ve actually been studying this offense in the offseasons since I was in college (at Louisville),” Bridgewater said Thursday night. “Pick three quarterbacks in the league, three systems in the league, to study to better your game, and this has always been one of the offenses.
“So for me, to be a part of it now and to actually be able to learn it inside and out, I’m looking forward to that.”
The Saints, too, are looking forward to working with Bridgewater, a first-round pick in 2014 who started 28 consecutive regular-season games, and a playoff game, for Vikings before missing 2016 with a knee injury, and sitting out much of 2017 before returning to action.
The addition of Bridgewater upgrades and solidifies the Saints’ No. 2 quarterback spot, behind Drew Brees. New Orleans admired his skills enough to send a 2019 draft pick to the Jets in order to complete the trade.
“We think as a player, he can help us,” Coach Sean Payton said Thursday night following the Saints 28-0 win over the Rams. “We’re interested in any player who can help us get better as a team. His skill-set paired well and the big thing was him being able to overcome his injury and help us get better.
“He is an outstanding kid – well, he’s is not a kid anymore – but he has a great football IQ and we liked how he played in the preseason. We think a player like that is valuable and we are excited to have him.”
Bridgewater threw just two passes, both incompletions, in a cameo appearance last season for Minnesota. In 2014 and ’15, he completed 551 of 849 passes for 6,150 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 22 interceptions. This preseason with the Jets, he completed 28 of 38 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.
“I think it was a pretty solid preseason,” Bridgewater said. “I think we moved the ball well when I was in there with the guys, brought the energy, and just instilled confidence in those guys. It was great just being back out there playing football again after two years.”
But he also welcomed the trade to New Orleans.
“I was excited, just because I knew that there was another opportunity for me out here,” Bridgewater said. “I’ve been all about opportunities since I’ve been able to step back out on the football field, and this is an opportunity for me to continue to grow as a man and as a football player.”
That growth will take place behind Brees, the best free agent signing in franchise history who, this season, is poised to set a new NFL all-time record for career passing yards.
“I definitely don’t mind waiting,” Bridgewater said. “For me, I get to take advantage of this opportunity to grow as a man and as a football player. I’ve been following this offense since I was in college. To be able to be a part of it now is a great feeling.
“You watch the tape, you look the numbers and things like that, and you say, ‘Wow.’ You get the opportunity to be a part of something like that. So for me, I don’t mind waiting. I get to learn from one of the best players to ever play this game, get to be in a room with a great group of guys and get to learn from Coach Payton, also. So I look forward to that.”
The Saints, too, are anticipating a positive union.
“I think you have a chance to get a double-talented player who is accurate,” Payton said. “Man, a lot happened to him in a short period of time.
“If you really look at his ascension in Minnesota, year two he is in the playoffs and they are a field goal away from advancing to the next round. The following year he gets an injury and the team has success and then all of a sudden, he’s on a different roster.
“The (Jets) then draft a quarterback who is a good player. So, I like this player and we wouldn’t play him if we didn’t think he was someone who could help our team.”