NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints have agreed to acquire veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a sixth-round pick from the New York Jets for a third-round draft pick on Wednesday.
While record-setting quarterback Drew Brees is entrenched as New Orleans’ starter, the move signifies that Saints coach Sean Payton was not entirely comfortable with either veteran Tom Savage or second-year pro Taysom Hill serving as Brees’ backup.
“We are very pleased to obtain a young player with quite a bit of playing experience in Teddy Bridgewater,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. “He’s a successful quarterback and we know he will be a great addition to our quarterback room.”
The Saints have their sights set on Super Bowl contention after coming within one play of reaching the NFC title game last season.
The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles demonstrated the importance of a solid backup quarterback in 2017, winning a championship after Nick Foles had to replace injured starter Carson Wentz.
The trade brings more clarity to the Jets’ quarterback situation. It appears rookie Sam Darnold is the starter after being given every opportunity to win the job in a competition that included Bridgewater and incumbent Josh McCown.
Darnold is 29 of 45 for 244 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in the preseason and started the past two games, a strong signal that he would open the season under center when New York is at Detroit on Sept. 10.
McCown has played just one series in the preseason and will likely serve as a mentor to Darnold and a spot starter for the Jets if the rookie falters.
The No. 3 overall draft pick has impressed coach Todd Bowles and the rest of the staff with his veteran-like approach to game situations and his ability to quickly digest the playbook.
Bridgewater arguably outplayed Darnold this summer, going 28 of 38 for 316 yards, two TDs and one interception.
More than anything, though, he proved he’s healthy two years after a devastating knee injury that had many wondering if he’d ever walk again, let alone resume his football career.
“In his time with us, Teddy was the consummate professional, a great teammate, and a tremendous leader,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “He worked diligently with our medical staff and made tremendous strides along the way. We wish him nothing but success in the future.”
The 25-year-old Bridgewater, a former Louisville star and 2014 Minnesota first-round draft choice, has played in 20 NFL games with the Vikings, but only one in the past two seasons. He drew little interest from teams this past offseason. New York signed him to a one-year contract that only guaranteed a $500,000 signing bonus — but included various performance-based incentives.
During his short stint with the Jets, Bridgewater endeared himself to teammates and coaches because of his humble approach and determination to sustain his comeback.
Bridgewater also brushed off trade rumors — something he was constantly asked about as it became clearer that the Jets were leaning toward Darnold as the starter.
“Right now, I’m living in the now, taking advantage of this opportunity that I have right now,” Bridgewater said Sunday when asked about trade chatter. “I said last week, I look forward to coming to work every day and being the best version of Teddy that I can be, the best teammate, the best player that I can be.”
Meanwhile, the deal raises questions about Savage’s future with the Saints, even though his preseason numbers have been solid.
He has completed 23 of 31 passes (74.2 percent) for 232 yards. He has not been intercepted, but also has not thrown a touchdown pass, and the Saints offense has moved the ball inconsistently with Savage under center.
Hill, meanwhile, appears secure on the roster because he also plays on special teams and has been exceptional in kick coverage, often among the first to get to the returner and make the tackle.
As a quarterback, he has demonstrated potential, if not reliability. He is 26 of 32 (81.3 percent) for 206 yards and one TD. He also has rushed 16 times for 130 yards and two TDs. However, he has been intercepted twice and has lost two fumbles.