ENGLEWOOD | Teddy Bridgewater wants to return for a ninth NFL season in 2022 whether that’s in Denver or elsewhere.
Bridgewater indicated Thursday that retirement hasn’t crossed his mind as he’s dealt with the aftereffects of his second concussion of the season, which came on Dec. 19 against the Bengals.
“It comes with the game. Every time I hit the ground, I ask God, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Bridgewater said. “And then when I get up, when I come to work on a Wednesday and see the guys working hard, that’s why you do it, the interactions you have with the guys in the locker room, the smiles you get to put on the fans’ faces, the feeling of competing. That’s why you do this.”
And it’s something Bridgewater, who went on IR this week, wants to keep doing in 2022.
His one-year contract with the Broncos expires after this season. Last month, he denied that a report suggesting he wanted $25 million a year to keep playing came from his camp. But that figure would be middle of the road for a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Bridgewater was the most consistent of the 10 quarterbacks Denver has started, along with running back Phillip Lindsay last year, since Hall of Famer Peyton Manning retired a month after the Broncos’ win in Super Bowl 50.
In 14 starts he went 7-7 while completing 66.9% of his passes for 3,052 yards, a career-high 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was sacked 31 times.
He brought leadership to the locker room after new GM George Paton acquired him from Carolina in the offseason and reworked his contract so that the Panthers were on the hook for much of his compensation.
But he couldn’t pull the Broncos (7-9), who wrap up the season Saturday against nemesis Kansas City (11-5), out of their doldrums.
They’re missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season and posted their fifth consecutive losing season. So, another offseason of uncertainty looms regarding not only Bridgewater but coach Vic Fangio and his staff.
Bridgewater had the quote of training camp as he began his eighth NFL season with his fourth team last July, saying, “You can throw me in the jungle and I’m gonna come out with a fur coat and a headband made out of some leaves.”
Bridgewater said Thursday he still sees himself as a survivor, one who’s overcome a career-threatening injury and made multiple NFL stops.
“Yeah, that’s the nature of the business. You survive, man. And I tell everyone, I’ve been through the (unpredictability of the) NFL offseason the past couple of years and I understand things happen, decisions are made and it’s business,” Bridgewater said. “But I’m still gonna survive, man. No matter where or how it happens, I’ve just got to have that mindset always.”
Bridgewater hasn’t played since getting knocked unconscious against the Bengals. The Broncos took a 7-6 record into that game but lost 15-10. That was followed by losses to the Raiders and Chargers with Drew Lock under center.
“It’s a little difficult just knowing that you didn’t put the team in a position to where if something like this did come up, you could afford not to win a game or two,” Bridgewater said. “Wish we could have been let’s say 10-3 or something … but I am pleased with how guys are still competing every day. I’m proud of this group.
“We get one more opportunity to go out and complete. I’m happy I get to be on the sideline this week and I’m looking forward to it.”
Bridgewater met with the media on a Zoom call to accept the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award from the Denver chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. He’s the first offensive player to win it in the 15-year history of the award, which was created in the memory of the Broncos cornerback who was slain on New Year’s Day 2007 after completing his second season with the team.
“I’m honored that I’m the first offensive player to receive this award and very appreciative,” Bridgewater said.
Safety Justin Simmons had won the award the last two seasons and three of the last four. This year, Simmons was named the inaugural winner of the Demaryius Thomas Team MVP Award that was created to honor the memory of the former Broncos receiver who died last month at his home in Georgia. His family believes the cause of death was a seizure.
“What makes this really special is I got to have a relationship with D.T. and I know the type of impact that he’s had here,” Simmons said. “… This is as prestigious as an award gets. To be honored with this is unbelievable.”