Alvin Kamara. Vonn Bell. David Onyemata. Eli Apple. Those are just a small sample of current players the New Orleans Saints will have to put some money to the side for in order to re-sign them to new contracts and remain in NOLA as key contributors for the organization.
But now the Black and Gold — thanks to their recent success in which they’ve won six straight games, five of which came while starting #1 QB Drew Brees was out of the team’s starting lineup with a torn thumb ligament — find themselves suddenly faced with an even bigger financial task: how to keep backup QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Passionate ‘Who Dat’ fans everywhere all know the story by now of how Bridgewater was largely responsible for the team’s recent success in which the former University of Louisville star very calmly led the Saints to an undefeated (5-0) record while Brees was out recovering from surgery. But now the franchise will essentially be forced to look at how they’ll somehow be able to afford to keep Bridgewater with the team since he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
That’s because since the 26-year old Bridgewater has been able to prove himself to be one of the very best back-ups in the entire NFL with Brees out, he’s now expected to command anywhere from 20 to possibly even up to $30 million per season, to become a starting quarterback with a new team somewhere else next year.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) October 30, 2019
With the 40-year old Brees nearing his eventual retirement, the Saints will suddenly be faced with a brand new dilemma: should they “break the bank” and somehow figure out a way to ensure that Bridgewater remains with the team and takes over the reins once Brees is gone. That question has become a burning-hot topic in the past several days among media analysts and observers that cover the League, as well as a large portion of Saints fans throughout a wide variety of Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
New Orleans will also be faced with the prospect of losing Brees in the off-season as well, since he too will be a free agent at the end of the 2019 NFL season. However, the 19-year veteran is expected to sign a new “team-friendly” deal to remain with the team and finish out his career. But they’ll now also have to figure out a way to keep Teddy B in the fold, so that they can remain successful once Brees is no longer in the picture.
In his outstanding article the other day, USA TODAY SaintsWire writer John Sigler noted that due to previous restructures, along with the creative use of contract guarantees and voided years, the Black and Gold will have to pony up $25.3 million in “dead money” against their salary-cap limit next year; regardless of whether or not either Brees or Bridgewater (hopefully both) choose to remain with the team for the 2020 NFL Season and beyond.
The Saints and General Manager Mickey Loomis have the option of giving themselves some additional time by figuring out a way to creatively negotiate new deals, but their current salary-cap debt is only going to grow even larger with any new contracts being given out.
As it relates to Bridgewater specifically, the biggest issue for the Saints will be determining his true value and figuring out if his fantastic performance in the past 6 weeks makes it worth the huge amount of money that he’ll likely be seeking, while currently in the prime physical condition of his 6-year NFL career.
Drew Brees returns to the Saints today. Teddy Bridgewater held it DOWN in his absence.
◽️ 5-0 as starter
◽️ 9 TD | 2 INT
◽️ 69.7 completion %
◽️ 103.7 QB rating
League’s highest-paid backup for a reason. pic.twitter.com/sbM21Y7t7f
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 27, 2019
With an entire handful of NFL teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and the Chicago Bears all possibly looking at bringing in a brand new QB (especially one with Bridgewater’s successful track record) to guide their respective offenses next season, Teddy B is potentially looking at earning himself a HUGE “payday” in 2020 NFL Free Agency.
But will the Saints be able to pay him, while somehow figuring a way to afford all of the other players who’ve helped them achieve the great success they’ve had in the past few seasons?
That’s a question that for now, won’t likely be answered until the off-season next March. Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the Saints this past Spring in 2019 Free Agency, valued at $7.5 million that made him the NFL’s highest-paid back-up QB this season.
Undoubtedly, Bridgewater in spite of the many critics that still believe that he isn’t a “starting-caliber” NFL quarterback, has more than proven himself worthy of earning a starting QB’s salary.
Whoever pays Teddy $30 million is a complete idiot https://t.co/BuOBKqzBEX
— CJN (@CJNIII) October 30, 2019
I was agreeing with you that giving Bridgewater 20-30 million a year is a reach and a team would be stupid to do it
— Thomas Walsh (@Tommy2shoess) October 30, 2019
Now the Saints have to determine whether or not that worth should equal the amount of money that’s normally reserved for “elite” NFL QBs such as Brees, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, or Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.
What Teddy B has done for the Black and Gold this season while Brees was out of action, will be remembered by Who Dats for many, many years to come; especially if the Saints go on to experience even greater success in the NFL Playoffs and reach their ultimate goal of getting to Super Bowl LIV (54) in Miami next February.
Whether or not you believe he is worthy of such a humongous pay-increase. the fact remains that Bridgewater did what many of his most-vocal of critics, never thought he’d be able to do.
The bigger issue now for the Saints is deciding if they should “break the bank” so that they can keep Teddy B in New Orleans for the long haul.
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius