Theodore Edmond Bridgewater Jr. (born November 10, 1992) is an American football quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Louisville, and was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. With the Vikings, Bridgewater threw for 14 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, including winning the NFC North and making a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015. The following preseason, Bridgewater suffered an injury to his left leg, which knocked him out for all but one offensive series the next two seasons.
After the Vikings declined his fifth-year option, Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets, although he was promptly traded to the New Orleans Saints. With the Saints, Bridgewater served as backup to Drew Brees, including winning all five games as a replacement when Brees was injured in 2019. Bridgewater signed a three-year deal with the Panthers the following offseason. The son of Teddy Bridgewater Sr. and Rose Murphy, Bridgewater was born in Miami, Florida on November 10, 1992. He attended Miami Northwestern High School. In his sophomore year, he replaced Jacory Harris as starting quarterback and took over a team that had been named the 2007 national champions by USA Today. He completed 97 of 160 attempts (60.6 percent) for 1,560 yards over the season, throwing 16 touchdowns with three interceptions. He also carried 45 times for 211 yards (4.7 average) and two more scores. Northwestern finished the season 13–3, falling short to Seminole High School of Sanford 28–21 in the 6A state title game.
As a junior, Bridgewater passed for 2,546 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 379 yards and five more scores. In a late-September game against Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, he completed 19 of 24 passes for 327 yards and a Dade County record of seven touchdowns. He was named second-team All-State for 6A classification and first-team All-County by the Miami Herald. Northwestern finished the season 10–2, after a 29–16 loss to rival Miami Central High School.
As a senior, Bridgewater had 2,606 passing yards and 22 touchdowns despite missing parts of the season with a medial collateral ligament injury. He also rushed for 223 yards and eight more scores. Northwestern had a 9–3 record for the season, losing 42–27 to Miami Central in the 6-A semifinals, in which he threw for 436 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Regarded as a four-star recruit, Bridgewater was considered the sixth best dual-threat qu arterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com. He played in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. As a freshman in 2011, Bridgewater entered the season as a backup to Will Stein but started the Cardinals’ fourth game of the season against Marshall and remained the starter the rest of the year. He finished the season completing 191 of 296 passes for 2,129 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. For his play, he was named the Big East Rookie of the Year and was named a freshman All-American by Rivals.com, Scout.com, CBS Sports, and Sporting News.
As a sophomore in 2012, Bridgewater started 11 of 12 regular season games. In his only non-starting action, coming off the bench while injured against Rutgers, he led his team to a win, a Big East title, and a berth to the BCS. He finished the regular season completing 267 of 387 passes for 3,452 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. He finished 6th in the nation in completion percentage, 8th in yards per attempt, and 7th in passing efficiency. For his play, he was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Bridgewater and his Cardinals football team entered the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators as decided underdogs. Although Florida boasted the nation’s #1 pass efficiency defense, Bridgewater passed for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns to become the game’s MVP in a 33–23 win.
As a junior in 2013, Bridgewater completed 303 of 427 passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions. In his final college game against the Miami Hurricanes in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, he completed 35 of 42 passes for 447 yards three touchdowns and was named the game’s MVP. As early as April 2013, Bridgewater was seen as one of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft, alongside Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel. Reports said that, had he been eligible for the 2013 Draft, he most likely would have been the first quarterback taken. At one point, he was projected by many to be the first overall pick in the draft. On January 1, 2014, Bridgewater announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility at Louisville. On March 18, 2018, Bridgewater signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets. The contract only guaranteed a $500,000 signing bonus, though he could make up to a maximum of $15 million from a non-guaranteed salary and incentives. On August 29, 2018, the Jets traded Bridgewater and a 2019 sixth-round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for a 2019 third-round draft pick. Bridgewater made his Saints debut on October 8 against the Washington Redskins, taking a knee twice to close out the game. He did this in two more games later in the season.
On December 28, with the Saints already locking up the #1 seed, it was announced that Bridgewater would start in the season finale against the Carolina Panthers. Making his first start since 2015, Bridgewater finished the game completing 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown, and an interception as the Saints lost 33–14. He also rushed for 12 yards.
On March 15, 2019, Bridgewater signed a one-year, $7.25 million fully guaranteed contract with the Saints. During Week 2, he replaced Drew Brees, who left with a right thumb injury, completing 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards in a 27–9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Due to Brees’s injury, Bridgewater was named the starting quarterback for Week 3. In that game, Bridgewater completed 19 of 27 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints defeated the Seattle Seahawks on the road by a score of 33-27. This was the first game where Bridgewater threw for more than one touchdown in a game since week 15 of the 2015 season. In Week 5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bridgewater threw for 314 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in the 31–24 win. In Week 6, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had 240 passing yards and one passing touchdown in the 13–6 victory. In Week 7, against the Chicago Bears, he had 281 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Brees returned from his injury in Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals. On March 26, 2020, Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.