While Philip Rivers shows no sign of slowing down any time soon and 2018 is expected to be the sort of season where he leads the Chargers back into playoff football, the inevitable talk around his mid-to-long-term future has continued.
As things stand, behind Philip Rivers sits former Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones. 13-season veteran clipboard holder Kellen Clemens is an unrestricted free agent, and the former Oregon product has been linked to the Arizona Cardinals to sit behind whoever they snare to replace Carson Palmer. Meanwhile, Jones is yet to fully impress.
An Ohio State product, Jones was drafted in the fourth round (139th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Bills while Anthony Lynn was on their staff. Lynn obviously saw enough to trade a seventh-rounder to bring him to Los Angeles, but the tape and the reports out of training haven’t painted Jones in a stellar light.
With a significant amount of uncertainty behind Rivers, enter Teddy Bridgewater.
A man with plenty of uncertainty surrounding his future in the league following an ACL tear, structural damage and a dislocated knee suffered in a noncontact drill just prior to the 2016 season, Bridgewater poses one of the more interesting free agents on the market.
Bridgewater heads into free agency along with two other Viking quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. Redskins’ Kirk Cousins is the obvious blue-chip quarterback on the market. It has been a long time since the league saw this level of depth at the position available. But for a franchise like the Chargers who have a long-standing passer they are confident in, Bridgewater could represent the perfect backup option.
Before his horrific injury, 2017 was touted as the year Bridgewater would progress and become the franchise-level rockslinger many expected him to be. Naturally, that was curbed as he sat out the season, but there are still enough traits in his game to like what he does.
Added with the opportunity to sit behind an experienced guy like Rivers, absorb his approach to the game and get fully fit for the next couple of seasons, and it’s hard not to day-dream about how effective Bridgewater could be in Lynn’s offense in a few years time.
In his favor, Bridgewater posted some seriously good records as a rookie in the NFL. During a Week 15 loss in his rookie season, he managed to post the highest completion percentage by a rookie quarterback with at least 40 attempts (75.6%) in a single game. During that season, he also strung together a four-game streak of 70% or better pass completions, a first for a rookie.
Across the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he managed to finish with pass completion percentages in the mid-60s while passing for 6,150 yards and 28 touchdowns.
There will be question marks on how Bridgewater handles the rigors and demands of a return to the NFL following a serious leg injury. There will also be concerns over how the Chargers could facilitate a move for a higher-profile backup quarterback who may sap up more precious cap space than the previously cheap Clemens.
Even with those doubts, the upside is there.
The time to start preparing for the post-Rivers world is now. Chargers GM Tom Telesco could do a lot worse than bringing in Bridgewater, who’s only 25 years old, for the right price and saving his draft picks for bolstering the roster around Rivers while the future Hall of Famer is still on the field.