Bridgewater is still recovering from the leg injury that kept him out for the 2016 season. Pelissero added Bridgewater will likely start the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list before the team re-evaluates his status in October.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last Wednesday the Vikings had reservations about committing to the 24-year-old for 2018 considering the significance of his injury. By exercising the option, Minnesota would’ve been on the hook for roughly $11 million guaranteed.
Should Bridgewater be unable to play in 2017, then his contract would roll over to the 2018 season. Some would likely argue that gives the Vikings extra incentive not to exercise his fifth-year option. If he’s too injured to return this year, then he’s still under team control for an extra year anyway.
However, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is of the opinion that Minnesota declining the option could be an ominous sign:
Also, if the Vikings can indeed toll the contract by not activating Bridgewater from the PUP list in 2017, why not pick up the fifth-year option and extend the deal through 2019? If they think he’ll stay on PUP in 2017 and that he won’t be ready to play by 2019, that would be the most ominous news yet regarding his knee injury from nearly eight months ago.
Sam Bradford is in the final year of his contract as well. If the Vikings were confident in Bridgewater making a full recovery, then one would reasonably expect the team to pick up the option as a backup plan should Bradford leave as a free agent.
Instead, Minnesota could potentially lose Bridgewater and Bradford in the same offseason.