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NFL won't toll Teddy Bridgewater's contract, making him a free agent, sources say

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (right) celebrates after the NFC Divisional Playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Just like Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater’s days with the Minnesota Vikings could be numbered.

The NFL elected not to toll the fifth-year quarterback’s contract for 2018, a league source said Tuesday. That would make Bridgewater a free agent on March 14 unless the Vikings negotiate a long-term extension for him, which seems highly unlikely at this late point.

The NFL Players Association was prepared to file a grievance on Bridgewater’s behalf if the NFL Management Council, which governs player contracts, tolled his $1.354 million contract over to 2018.

Bridgewater’s only game action since suffering a torn left ACL in August 2016 has been two series in mop-up duty in a 34-7 victory Dec. 17 over Cincinnati. Bridgewater, in the final year of his four-year rookie contract, was on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the 2017 season.

Article 20, Section 2 of the NFL collective bargaining agreement states: “Any player placed on a physically unable to perform list (PUP) will be paid his full … salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.”

NFL rules do not permit a player on the PUP list to practice or play in the first six weeks of the season. However, a source has said language in the CBA could be interpreted as to whether Bridgewater could have been physically able to perform in the first six weeks regardless of that rule.

Bridgewater returned to practice on Oct. 18, the first day he was eligible. He said on Oct. 19 that he could have returned a “couple of weeks” earlier had he been eligible.

On Monday, NFL Network reported the Vikings would not negotiate a contract extension for Keenum or place the franchise tag on him, which would have allowed the team to sign him for one season at about $23 million. He, too, is scheduled to become a free agent on March 14 after a career season in which he was 12-4 in 16 starts, 14 during the regular season and two in the playoffs.

The Vikings have given no indication what they plan to do with Bradford, who was their backup quarterback for both playoff games — not Bridgewater, their 2014 first-round draft pick.

“It happens,” Bridgewater told reporters on Jan. 22, one day after the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Vikings in the NFC Championship game.

“In a perfect world, I would have loved to have been dressing. But I understand decisions were made to give this team the best chance to win. I understand that. I’m a pro. I know what it takes. It just happened, and I dealt with it.”

The Vikings don’t have any quarterbacks under contract for the 2018 season, though Bridgewater made it sound like he wouldn’t want to return to Minnesota as a backup.

Bridgewater said “without a question” he wants to be a starting quarterback next season.

Bridgewater suffered a near-catastrophic knee injury on Aug. 30, 2016, during a late preseason practice at Winter Park. He spent all of 2016 and most of 2017 rehabilitating.

In 2015, Bridgewater led the Vikings to the playoffs, completing 65 percent of 447 passes for 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

“I feel great,” Bridgewater said last month. “Probably feel better than I have in a while. We’ll just see how the future plays out.”