Doubt hovers over whether Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can become a free agent this offseason.
ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin reported Thursday the NFL could potentially toll Bridgewater's contract over to 2018, so he'd still be under contract with the Vikings for one more year at $1.354 million. The situation arose as a result of the fourth-year passer starting the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list.
The Vikings placed Bridgewater on the PUP list as he recovered from the knee injury that cost him the entire 2016 season. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio addressed last May how that impact his contract status with Minnesota:
"The Collective Bargaining Agreement contains a provision that plainly states the contract will toll if he remains on the Physically Unable to Perform through the sixth game of the 2017 regular season. With Bridgewater still recovering from a devastating knee injury suffered last August, a decision to leave him on the PUP list at the start of the regular season guarantees that he'll be on PUP for the first six games, because: (1) the window to exit PUP doesn't open until after Week Six; and (2) the Vikings don't have a bye in the first six weeks of the season."
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said one major sticking point regards whether Bridgewater had been healthy enough to play for the Vikings before the end of his mandated six-week stay on the PUP list.
"One of the critical issues is whether he was medically cleared or whether he was medically able to play," Smith said, per The Athletic's Chad Graff.
According to Cronin, the NFLPA would consider filing a grievance and taking the matter to court were the NFL to toll Bridgewater's contract.
Despite making just one appearance for the Vikings this year, Bridgewater has a strong incentive to hit the open market.
For one, it doesn't seem that likely he'd be Minnesota's starter. Case Keenum had an excellent 2017, and the Vikings are set to have more than $56 million available in salary cap space, per Spotrac, which would be enough to seriously pursue Kirk Cousins.
In addition, Bridgewater almost certainly stands to gain more financially as a free agent. He's still only 25, and this year's free-agent market is thin at quarterback when looking beyond Cousins and Drew Brees.
Despite the language in the CBA stipulating Bridgewater's contract should toll, it's arguably in both his and the Vikings' interests they have a clean break this offseason.