The rumblings are becoming louder and louder by the day that Teddy Bridgewater may return to the University of Louisville for his senior season.  We’ve spoken to plenty of ‘sources’ who all have differing opinions on whether Teddy will opt into the 2014 NFL Draft, but the truth is that until we hear it from Bridgewater himself…..no one knows.

Charlie Strong indicated prior to the Memphis game that Bridgewater enjoys playing college football and isn’t necessarily ready to leave his ‘close friends’ that he grew up playing with.  The Miami connection on the Louisville roster is strong, and Bridgewater has certainly surrounded himself with familiar faces.  In speaking to some of Bridgewater’s teammates, I can tell you that the thought process is real.  But it is a small part of the puzzle for Teddy.

Bridgewater is competitive and the 2014 NFL Draft offers very little competition. Right now, Bridgewater is far and away the best QB prospect on the board for the ’14 Draft and several NFL teams are thirsty for a franchise QB.  The practical thing for Teddy to do would be to take the money and the position that he has earned.  His marketability would be off the charts in the 2014 Draft, he would get the maximum contract for his draft position along with the maximum signing bonus (not as large as it was prior to the new labor agreement), along with being the most marketable new Quarterback in the NFL.

In the 2015 Draft, however, that would NOT be the case.  Bridgewater would not be the clear cut #1 QB.  In fact, in 2015 he would start next season firmly behind Jameis Winston on the draft board and would also have legitimate competition for the #2 QB in the NFL Draft.  However, the NEW NFL is no longer about the 1st contract but rather the 2nd.  By all accounts, Teddy is a sure-fire NFL QB and I agree with that assessment. But Bridgewater is 21 years old and still has plenty of room for improvement.  If Louisville were remaining in the AAC for the 2014, Bridgewater would not be able to develop as much as he will be able to in the ACC.

If Bridgewater Returns the following accomplishments are possible:

-Heisman Trophy & Other Major Awards

-National Championship

-Validation

-Top Draft Selection

-School’s All-Time Passing Leader in EVERY CATEGORY

If Bridgewater Returns the following negative impacts are possible: 

-Injury

-Negative Results to Increased Competition on the Field

-Draft Slippage due to Increased Competition in the Draft

-Naysayers Proven Right

To me the risk/reward just isn’t worth it.  But maybe Teddy Bridgewater loves playing college football, maybe he loves his teammates enough to delay monetary gratification for a year.  Maybe Teddy wants to play at College Football’s highest level in the ACC’s Atlantic Division against the defending National Champions (maybe) and the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner in Jameis Winston.  I don’t think it is advisable for young Theodore to turn down the type of generational wealth that will be coming his way this Spring. But there is an argument that playing in the ACC in 2014 will assist in Teddy’s development, help him avoid the NFL’s ‘sophomore slump’ (see RGIII) and help better position him for the blockbuster 2nd contract.

How Teddy Returning Impacts UofL

The Cards are easily a pre-season Top 12 team, if not higher.  Prior to & during the 2013 season many ‘experts’ had Louisville low in the rankings due to a ‘weak schedule’.  Forget for a minute that a schedule has nothing to do with the strength of an actual team, and focus on the fact that Louisville’s schedule in 2014 will be anything but weak, and will likely be the toughest in Cardinal history.  Louisville’s schedule will allow for the entire platter of College Football to be available.  The respect level that is required for major awards, the ability to get into a 4-team playoff, high Draft profile for the entire team….it’s all there.

Circle the Florida State vs. Louisville game in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2014.  The date has not yet been announced, but a date that pits Bridgewater vs. Jameis Winston is sure to fill the stadium with pro scouts and excited fans.

Bridgewater’s Return could impact the return of junior DeVante Parker & Damian Copeland (who has been granted a 6th year if he chooses).   The trio of Eli Rogers, DeVante Parker, and Damian Copeland could together SMASH……and I mean SMASH Louisville receiving records.  It’s never happened before to have 3 players all crack the Top 10 in receiving in the same season.  Unprecedented.  With a game to play left in 2013, Eli Rogers needs just 7 catches, 347 yards, and 4 TDs to crack the Top 10 in each category.  Damian Copeland needs just 25 receptions, 373 yards, and 8 TDs to enter the Top 10 in each category.  DeVante Parker is already 3rd all-time in Career Receiving TDs and needs just 6 to break the all-time record, but he does need 31 receptions, and just 26 yards to enter the Top 10.

Any deal that has Teddy Bridgewater returning, also hinges on Shawn Watson’s return.  I’ve taken a lot of heat in defending Watson’s offense in 2013, but if you want Teddy back in 2014 you are going to have Watson as well.  Could the offense have been better in 2013?  Sure.  Particularly on the ground.  The running game certainly needs to be more productive given the way Watson calls a game and the offensive line needs to be better both in protection and in the run game.

Will Bridgewater Return in 2014?

The selfish part of me would love to see Teddy wear the Red & Black for another season.  The practical part of me, and the part of me who was emotionally moved by his upbringing and care of his mother……that part of me wants Teddy to go and get paid.  Maybe if Teddy does return he can bargain with Charlie Strong to give the program its wish to wear the black alternate uniform. With another year you can bet that Bridgewater’s Senior Day would start with his jersey being honored and talk of statues being built in the concourse of PJCS.

Teddy Bridgewater is a superstar.  He’ll be a superstar in the NFL. He’s been a superstar in college.  But it isn’t really about what is practical, what NFL teams need, what UofL could do with another year of Teddy, or what Teddy’s impact is on his teammates.  It all boils down to what Teddy Bridgewater wants.  It’s HIS choice.  College Football is priceless……but so is a secured future.  It’s a tough decision, but ultimately Bridgewater has to make that decision himself.

CardNation supports Teddy Bridgewater in his decision and is thankful for his impact on the program whether he enters the 2014 NFL Draft or 2015.  It’s up to Bridgewater to decide when Rose Murphy will get her pink Escalade with pink spinning rims.

 

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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