New Orleans Saints free agency primer: Everything to know for 2022

With NFL free agency right around the corner, here’s everything you need to know for the New Orleans Saints in 2022, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

NFL free agency hits its unofficial beginning as the “legal tampering” period begins Monday afternoon. During this time, teams and players can agree to terms on new contracts in principle. Those signings and more usually become official on Wednesday afternoon with a few dissenters. The New Orleans Saints will have what is sure to be one of their most interesting and important free agency periods this offseason. The team is in the market for help at multiple key positions and there are some important pending free agents that are set to hit the market if the Saints don’t find a way to keep them around first.

As New Orleans braces for free agency, here’s everything you need to know; salary cap update, key outgoing free agents, positions of need, and more.

Dwindling veteran QB options could impact Saints offseason

The Saints’ options at quarterback are dwindling as many teams choose stand by last season’s starters. Surveying the field ahead of free agency, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

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The NFL scouting combine is a hotbed for rumors around big names and high-impact positions. This year, as the 2022 NFL draft prospects showcase their talents in Indianapolis, is no exception. The rumor mill is churning like usual and for the New Orleans Saints, it could bring bad news. It all depends on their plans for finding their next quarterback.

Head coach Dennis Allen has said that it would be one of the first things the Saints staff did. They have presumably since that remark sat down and evaluated their possibilities at quarterback. If their next step was to explore the market for a proven commodity at the position, their options are quickly dwindling. Here are some updates on the 12 veteran signal callers Saints Wire’s managing editor John Sigler identified back in December as possibilities for the New Orleans Saints in 2022.

WATCH: Teddy Bridgewater crashes in his old spot on the Saints bench

Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater ran out of bounds and kept going, until he fell in his old place on the New Orleans Saints sideline.

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New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton found time to chuckle after squeaking out a win against Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, his former protégé.

“I don’t remember him moving that well,” Payton said in his postgame media conference call. “He got out of some tough looks. Obviously he played well.”

Bridgewater ran twice to gain 10 yards, but one of those scrambles went out of bounds — and into the Saints sideline. His momentum carried him past a bemused Alvin Kamara until he fell into the New Orleans bench, right in his old spot between Drew Brees and Taysom Hill.

All three quarterbacks laughed about it before Bridgewater jumped back to his feet and hustled back into the game, where he finished with one of his better stat lines as a pro: completing 23 of 28 passes for 254 yards and a couple of touchdown strikes.

It wasn’t enough to win the day, but it came close. Bridgewater surprised the Saints several times on Sunday, at one point chirping with Payton after each team committed off-setting penalties. It’s clear that he’s still well-liked by the Saints coaches and locker room, and likely by many fans. They’ll just have to avoid cheering for him too loudly when Bridgewater’s Panthers are pushing New Orleans for a much-needed division win.

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Teddy Bridgewater salutes Alex Smith, offers condolences to Dak Prescott

Former Saints, current Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater commented on Alex Smith’s Washington return and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s injury.

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Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t play for the New Orleans Saints anymore, but he managed to help them out a bit by leading his Carolina Panthers to a 23-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. That improved his Panthers to 3-2, and functionally ended the Falcons’ season by plunging them to 0-5, which led to the firings of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. The Saints will surely pass on their thanks when they play Bridgewater’s Panthers after their Week 6 bye.

But Bridgewater kept his attention on other happenings around the NFL in Week 5, like the return of Washington FT quarterback Alex Smith. Smith was named the backup against the Los Angeles Rams and got into the game after the starter, Kyle Allen, was injured. This was remarkable because it followed nearly two years of difficult recovery for Smith since his career-threatening leg injury in 2018.

It’s a journey Bridgewater is familiar with from his Minnesota Vikings days, and he took time to congratulate Smith on his comeback:

Unfortunately, another situation drew Bridgewater’s attention. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went down late in his team’s game with the New York Giants with a season-ending ankle injury. And Bridgewater expressed sympathy for his fellow quarterback, wishing him a speedy recovery:

Moments like these make it easy to see why Bridgewater was such an popular addition to the Saints locker room. The guy is a class act through and through, having learned a lot by overcoming adversity. It’s just a shame Saints fans have to root against him twice a year.

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WATCH: Teddy Bridgewater takes a late lead over the Raiders with 75-yard TD pass

Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater, former New Orleans Saints backup, struck WR Robby Anderson for a huge touchdown pass against the Raiders.

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There he goes: former New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater put on some late-game heroics in his first career start with the Carolina Panthers, striking wide receiver Robby Anderson for a 75-yard touchdown pass to take the lead against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Bridgewater dropped back to his own 15-yard line before targeting Anderson on an out route near midfield, placing the ball well enough for Anderson to secure the catch, reset his feet, and streak 40 yards away for a score. The following point-after attempt put Carolina up 30-27 over Las Vegas, with about 8 and a half minutes left in regulation. But the Raiders rallied back on their next drive, and Bridgewater’s Panthers now trail 34-30 with 4 minutes remaining.

It was a great play by the former Saints backup, but hopefully he won’t keep up this habit of making great plays when he faces the Saints on Oct. 25 (and again on Jan. 3). In the meantime, the Saints are playing the Raiders themselves next week on Monday Night Football, flying into Las Vegas for a Sept. 21 kickoff. Here’s hoping their pass defense remains suspect.

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Details on Teddy Bridgewater’s contract with the Panthers

The New Orleans Saints lost free agent Teddy Bridgewater to the Carolina Panthers, where the quarterback will earn $21 million annually.

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The New Orleans Saints lost backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Carolina Panthers, with the 27-year-old passer expected to sign a three-year, $63 million contract as a free agent. ESPN’s Dan Graziano first reported the details on Bridgewater’s agreed-upon deal.

Carrying a $15 million signing bonus and $40 million in guarantees over the first two years, Bridgewater will also earn base salaries of $8 million in 2020, $17 million in 2021, and $20 million in 2022. He also has the typical workout and roster bonuses you’ll find in most NFL contracts.

A $21 million annual take is a nice payday for Bridgewater, and it will qualify the Saints for a third-round draft pick in 2021 should they remain quiet in free agency. That would replace the 2018 draft pick traded away to acquire him, bringing things full-circle. For added symbolism, Bridgewater will play against the Saints twice a year for NFC South-rival Carolina.

What’s interesting about the contract’s structure is that the Panthers can get out of it as soon as 2021 if they really want to, though cutting Bridgewater next offseason would only save $3 million against the salary cap. But if the Panthers make a move for a quarterback prospect in next month’s draft and think they offer a better chance to win than Bridgewater, a pathway out of this deal has been drawn up in case they need it.

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Saints teammates respond to Teddy Bridgewater’s deal with the Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are working to complete a contract agreement with New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

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New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is close to completing a contract with the Carolina Panthers, which he cannot sign until the beginning of the new NFL fiscal year — at 3 p.m. CT on Wednesday, March 18. Once finalized, that deal is projected to put Bridgewater in a starting role under center, with Cam Newton expected to be traded away.

It’s great to see Bridgewater get this opportunity, even if it’s happening with a division rival in the NFC South. But some of Bridgewater’s former Saints teammates also shared their reactions to the news on Twitter, with responses ranging from celebratory congratulations to disappointment at the loss of a popular member of the locker room.

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Panthers finalizing three-year contract with Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater

The Carolina Panthers are finalizing a three-year, $60 million contract with New Orleans Saints free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Carolina Panthers are finalizing a three-year, $60 million contract with New Orleans Saints free agent Teddy Bridgewater, as first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and confirmed by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Bridgewater thrived as the backup quarterback in New Orleans but will get the opportunity to start for the Panthers.

He’ll also be reunited with former Saints assistant Joe Brady, who rose to prominence during the LSU Tigers 2019 title run and now works as the Panthers offensive coordinator. While many free agent pickups around the league will need time to absorb a new playbook, Bridgewater gets a head start due to that familiarity.

And familiarity is something the Saints will lean on in the years ahead. They and the Panthers will play twice a year as NFC South rivals, meaning Drew Brees’ one-time protege will now be directly competing against him. It’s great to see Bridgewater earn this kind of windfall, and he should do well in a system he’s used to running. But couldn’t he have gone somewhere else?

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Panthers, Patriots interested in Saints free agent Teddy Bridgewater

New Orleans Saints free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is receiving interest from the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots.

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Where will Teddy Bridgewater play in 2020? The New Orleans Saints backup quarterback is a pending free agent, and he’s already receiving offers from interested teams.

Among those suitors are the Carolina Panthers, per a report from ESPN’s Dianna Russini. The Panthers are also at work in trying to trade franchise quarterback Cam Newton, so Bridgewater would presumably have an easy path to starting under center for Carolina.

What’s more is that there’s some familiarity here. Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady worked with Bridgewater during the 2018 season, Bridgewater’s first in New Orleans, and having the veteran quarterback around would do a lot to help ease the transition to a new system. If the Panthers end up selecting a rookie passer high in next month’s NFL draft, Bridgewater makes sense as a mentor and possible bridge until they’re ready to start.

But the Panthers aren’t the only team making calls to Bridgewater’s agent. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed their interest and added that the New England Patriots are also in pursuit of Bridgewater, now that Tom Brady has announced his intentions to play elsewhere in 2020. With so many quarterback situations far from set in stone around the league, it’s starting to feel like only a matter of time until Bridgewater signs with a new team.

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Bears in contract talks with Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater

The Chicago Bears are interested in signing New Orleans backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to take the reins from Mitchell Trubisky.

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The most logical team fit for New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has emerged: the Chicago Bears. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Monday that the Bears were in negotiations with Bridgewater on a potential free agent contract that would usurp Mitchell Trubisky as the starting quarterback in Chicago. An offense loaded with pass-catching talent like Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Tarik Cohen could really use an upgrade under center.

Florio also suggested an average salary in the neighborhood of $21 million per year for Bridgewater, which would easily recoup the third-round draft pick the Saints swapped for him back in 2018 (if they qualify for a compensatory pick in next year’s draft).

Bridgewater is reportedly keeping all options on the table as he considered his next step, including a possible return to New Orleans for another year backing up Drew Brees. He ended up starting five games in that role last season, winning all of them, and having one of his best performance against the Bears at Soldier Field in a 36-25 victory. Intriguingly, the Saints are scheduled for another road trip to Chicago in the 2020 season, meaning Brees and his protege could end up squaring off — should the Bears pull off this move.

If the Bears do end up signing Bridgewater, it would demote Trubisky to the backup role — coincidentally putting Chase Daniel, longtime Saints clipboard-holder, on the free agent market. Daniel was one of several quarterbacks we suggested as a possible short-term Bridgewater replacement, so this domino falling could send ripples throughout the NFL (and back to New Orleans).

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