Broncos' Teddy Bridgewater: I'm a 'Survivor' After Recovery from Leg Injury in 2016

Adam WellsAugust 12, 2021

Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) takes part in drills during an NFL football training camp Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Heading into his first season with the Denver Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater reflected on the 2016 injury that almost led to him losing his leg. 

Speaking to ESPN's Jeff Legwold, Bridgewater said "I'm a survivor" when discussing his NFL career up to this point and competing to win the starting quarterback job in Denver. 

A first-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014, Bridgewater showed tremendous promise in his second season. He threw for 3,231 yards with 14 touchdowns and led the team to an NFC North title with an 11-5 record. 

Expectations were high for Bridgewater and the Vikings going into 2016, but he suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee in a noncontact drill during training camp. 

Dan Cooper, the surgeon who operated on Bridgewater's knee, told ESPN's Ian O'Connor in 2018 that it was a "horribly grotesque injury.”

“It’s mangled," Cooper added. "You make the skin incision, and there’s nothing there. It’s almost like a war wound. Everything is blown.”

Bridgewater didn't appear in a game again until Week 15 of the 2017 season when he took nine snaps in a 34-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. 

The Vikings declined Bridgewater's fifth-year option, making him a free agent after the 2017 season. He signed a one-year contract as a free agent with the New York Jets but was subsequently traded to the New Orleans Saints in Aug. 2018. 

After spending two seasons with the Saints, Bridgewater got the chance to become a full-time starter last year when he signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. The 28-year-old set career highs in completion percentage (69.1), passing yards (3,733) and passing touchdowns (15) in 15 starts. 

The Panthers traded Bridgewater to the Broncos in April. The Louisville alum is competing with Drew Lock to be Denver's starter in 2021.