Even though we had gotten reports of it before it became official, it still stung a little bit to hear that the Vikings had chosen not to pick up the fifth-year option on the contract of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. However, thanks to a clarification from the folks at the NFL Network, the team’s decision to do so now makes complete and total sense.
When Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first talked about the Vikings and Bridgewater’s option a week or so before the draft, he had this to say about it:
On Teddy Bridgewater: This is his last contract year. If he started on PUP & never came off for ’17, his contract tolls. It adds a 2018 year— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2017
However, earlier today in a discussion on the Twitter machine, the parameters for Bridgewater’s contract tolling became clearer, thanks to Rapoport.
There we go. Confirmation. Teddy's contract tolls to 2018 even if he's activated to the active roster during Week 7. https://t.co/4LtFo3cBzO— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) May 3, 2017
(You can click through the Twitter conversation to see Rapoport’s official answer. I just wanted to give Mr. Reid the appropriate credit.)
Indeed, Article 20, Section 2 of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement does seem to say that.
Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.
So, apparently, even if Bridgewater does start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, the team can activate him later on in the season and still get the extra year on Bridgewater’s contract. Since, per NFL rules, anyone that starts the season on the PUP List is mandated to miss the first six games of the year, this would give the Vikings an extra year of control over Bridgewater’s contract beyond what the fifth-year option would have given them.
In light of this clarification, it appears that the Vikings would have been certifiably insane if they had chosen to pick up Bridgewater’s option. Had they picked up the option, they could have potentially been on the hook for about $12 million of Teddy wasn’t ready to go by the start of 2018. Now, the team can potentially bring him back in 2017 (if he makes enough progress), re-evaluate during the 2018 offseason (and have him under contract for 2018 for the same salary he’s set to make in 2017, which I believe is around $2 million), and potentially pick up his option for the 2019 season.
With this being the case, you’d almost have to think that the plan is, in fact, for Bridgewater to start the 2017 season on the PUP List. It’s really just about the only way all of this makes sense.
I guess there are reasons why guys like Rick Spielman are sitting in an office at Winter Park and guys like me are. . .well, not.