Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel believed that Teddy Bridgewater was the perfect backup quarterback behind Tua Tagovailoa.
“Around the combine I was describing specifically what I thought Tua really needed in support (from) a backup quarterback,” Mike McDaniel said last March. “Unbeknownst to you guys, that was quite literally describing Teddy Bridgewater at the time. Just not using his name.”
Bridgewater made $6.5 million for the team while completing 49 of his 79 attempts for 683 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions across five outings. Tagovailoa missed four games last season, but seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson started three games, including the playoff matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Thompson completed 60 of 105 attempts for 534 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions — and is under contract for less than $1 million next year. In comparison, Bridgewater had the team’s sixth-largest cap hit in 2022.
Mike White, 27, is about to hit free agency after making $2.5 million while throwing five touchdowns and eight interceptions in four games played with the New York Jets. Jimmy Garoppolo, 31, Sam Darnold, 25, and Baker Mayfield, 27, would all make for great backups — but how much can Miami afford to spend?
The Dolphins need to wipe $16.377 million off the salary cap before the new league year begins on March 15. Shortly after, the franchise will focus on rebuilding the roster since 27 players face free agency.
Miami will restructure contracts and move on from others to rebuild the roster — but a backup quarterback shouldn’t be a priority, especially considering the in-house option. The Dolphins invested in the “ideal” quarterback last season and still called on the seventh-round rookie for a late-season playoff run.
Bridgewater was dealt a rough hand with injuries — but that unpredictability is another reason Miami should lean toward Thompson — a top-tier backup isn’t worth the price.
Quarterbacks more talented than Thompson will soon be free agents, and some of them may be great fits in McDaniel’s system. However, in an offseason where pennies need to be pinched — McDaniel can flex his ability to develop players in his complex but quarterback-friendly offense. Thompson started a playoff game and already has one year of experience with McDaniel under his belt — a true advantage when looking at options around the league.
The hope is Tagovailoa can play 17 games next season, but keep in mind that backup quarterbacks don’t come in and move the offense like a starter. Even if Thompson takes a minor step forward, he should be given every opportunity to earn the backup quarterback role — a way to use limited cap space elsewhere.
Who knows, maybe McDaniel and Grier spot a No. 3 quarterback in the middle rounds of the NFL draft, in April.