Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who came back from a career-threatening knee injury to serve as the backup behind Case Keenum for the second half of the 2017 season, described the year as his "favorite season by far."
"It was probably my favorite season by far, even though I didn't play much," Bridgewater told ESPN's Courtney Cronin. "This season challenged my mindset because as bad as I wanted to be out there playing, being the competitor that I am, I wanted to go to war and go to battle with my guys, I had to be out there in a different aspect. I had to be there for the guys mentally.
"It gave me a different role and I accepted it. It was one that was hard to accept because I'm a competitor, but I wouldn't trade this year for nothing."
Bridgewater, 25, returned to the active roster Nov. 8 and was the team's primary backup for the rest of the season. He threw just two passes, an incompletion and an interception, during a Dec. 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles. Bridgewater did not play in either of the team's postseason contests and will be an unrestricted free agent in March after Minnesota declined his fifth-year option.
The year was nonetheless considered a success, as Bridgewater came back from a devastating knee injury some thought would end his career. Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL, dislocation of his knee joint and multiple other injuries during an August 2016 practice. He missed the entire 2016 season, leading to the Vikings' trade of Sam Bradford in 2016 and signing of Keenum (then as a backup) in 2017.
While it's possible Bridgewater returns to Minnesota, he's maintained he wants to be a starter. He threw for 6,150 yards and 28 touchdowns against 22 interceptions in his first two NFL seasons.
"I'm just going to continue focusing on becoming a better football player, attacking the offseason with the mindset of getting stronger and doing everything that I can to show that when the time comes, I'm ready to play football," he said. "The best thing about it is my dream gets to continue to come true—that I get to play football next year. I'm going to be playing football next year."