So how does Dolphins free agent target Teddy Bridgewater compare with Ryan Tannehill, the man he could be replacing if Bridgewater agrees to a deal in the aftermath of his Dolphins meeting on Wednesday night?
Tannehill is better in about half of the 10 most commonly cited statistical measures.
But Bridgewater is clearly better in two critical areas that aren’t mentioned as much (more on that in a minute).
Also, Bridgewater is younger (he won’t turn 27 until November), cheaper and might still have upside, while Tannehill – whose $19 million salary next season isn’t guaranteed - appears to be largely a finished product at age 30.
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How the two compare:
▪ Tannehill has an 87 career passer rating in 88 career games, Bridgewater 85.9 in 35 career games.
▪ Bridgewater has a better winning percentage. He’s 17-12 as a starter (58.6 percent). Tannehill is 42-46 (a 47.7 percent winning percentage).
▪ Bridgewater had a 64.6 percent career completion percentage. Tannehill is at 62.8.
▪ Tannehill has averaged 232 passing yards per game, Bridgewater 179.
▪ Both have thrown interceptions on 2.6 percent of their career passes.
▪ Tannehill has thrown touchdowns on 4.2 percent of his career passes, Bridgewater 3.3 percent.
▪ Tannehill had a 1.6 to 1 career TD to interception ratio. Bridgewater’s is 1.3 to 1.
▪ Bridgewater has averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, Tannehill 7.0.
▪ Bridgewater has led his team to four fourth-quarter comeback wins in 35 games, including 29 as a starter. Tannehill has done that 15 times in 88 games, all starts.
▪ Tannehill has been sacked once every 7.9 pass attempts, Bridgewater once every 8.9 – among the worst in the NFL over the past few years.
But here are two areas where Tannehill ranked among the league worst and Bridgewater is clearly better:
▪ Third downs: Tannehill has a brutal career 74.9 passer rating on third downs, with 32 touchdowns, 29 interceptions and a first-down conversion on 32.3 percent of third-down passing plays (including sacks).
Bridgewater, conversely, has a 97.2 career passer rating on third downs, with 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 36.4 first-down conversion rate (including sacks).
▪ Fourth quarter: Bridgewater also has been better in the fourth quarter, with an 88 career rating (not great but not dismal), compared to Tannehill’s 80.1.
MORE BRIDGEWATER CHATTER
▪ Bridgewater, who made the Pro Bowl in his second season (2015), missed all of the 2016 season and until early November of the 2017 season with a torn ACL and dislocation of the knee joint sustained in an Aug. 30, 2016 practice.
He signed with the Jets last March and was traded on Aug. 30 to the Saints – along with a sixth-round pick – for a 2019 third round pick.
▪ He appeared in five games last season, as Drew Brees’ backup, but threw passes in only two of them (one incompletion in a blowout win at Cincinnati) and 22 passes as a starter in the season finale against Carolina.
In that finale, Bridgewater struggled in his first start in three years, going 13 for 22 for 118 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 33-14 loss to Carolina.
▪ Former Texans and Redskins general manager Charley Casserly told me a couple months ago that Bridgewater is the best veteran available option in a post-Tannehill era.
“There is upside there,” Casserly, who works for NFL Network, said. “In talking to the Vikings, they thought the guy’s arm was stronger now than before [his knee injury that sidelined him in 2016 and part of 2017]. They thought his deep ball accuracy was better than before. That’s why I would say, yes, there’s upside.
“I saw him in preseason and I like him. He’s probably the No. 1 quarterback on the market. When he got hurt, I thought he and Derek Carr were [comparable] prospects at that point.”
▪ One reason why the Dolphins would be foolish to pay Bridgewater in the range of $10 million annually: That likely would cancel out the compensatory third-round draft pick they would otherwise likely get as compensation for losing Ja’Wuan James to Denver.
▪ Some wonder whether Bridgewater is so good that he could torpedo the Dolphins’ chances of landing the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Perhaps, but keep this in mind: On paper, he could be the worst of the quarterbacks of the top quarterback-needy contenders for the No. 1 pick, including Cincinnati (Andy Dalton), the Giants (Eli Manning), maybe the Raiders (Derek Carr). Same would apply if Tampa Bay (Jameis Winston) and San Francisco (Jimmy Garropolo, back from knee surgery) are bad enough to compete for the top pick. Arizona would be a wild card here, whether it’s Josh Rosen or potential No. 1 pick Kyler Murray starting.
Also, the Dolphins almost assuredly will be competing for a top five pick if they don’t fortify their defensive line – or right tackle and guard - with any clearly above average players.
WALFORD AGREES TO DEAL
The Dolphins added a fifth tight end to the roster, agreeing to a one-year deal with former Miami Hurricanes standout Clive Walford.
Walford was selected 68th overall by Oakland in the 2015 draft and had 70 catches for 768 yards and six touchdowns in three years with the Raiders, including 44 games and 10 starts.
He was released by the Raiders last March and spent very brief periods during the regular season last year with the Colts and Jets. He appeared in one game in 2018 and didn’t have a reception.
Walford joins Dwayne Allen, Mike Gesicki, Nick O’Leary and Durham Smythe as tight ends under contract to the Dolphins.
Here’s my earlier post Wednesday with notes on Leonte Carroo, the tackle search and other Dolphins items.