The Vikings have informed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is continuing his attempt to come back from a career-threatening knee injury, that they do not intend to exercise his fifth-year option for 2018, a source confirmed Monday.
Outside linebacker Anthony Barr, meanwhile, has had his option picked up.
The Vikings had until the end of the day Tuesday to exercise their options.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, all rookie contracts for first-round draft picks come with a team option for a fifth season. That option must be exercised before the player’s fourth season.
Because he was a linebacker drafted in the top 10 picks in 2014, Barr’s fifth-year salary in 2018 will be $12.3 million. Bridgewater, as a quarterback taken between picks No. 11 and 32 that year, would have had a 2018 salary of $12.2 million.
The fifth-year option salary is guaranteed for injury only. And with Bridgewater not certain to ever play again because of his knee injury, the financial risk was not worth it for the Vikings, though they are holding out hope he can resume his career.
Because the Vikings will not exercise Bridgewater’s option, 2017 will be the final year of his rookie contract. But the Vikings can still keep him beyond that if they choose.
If Bridgewater, the final first-round pick in the 2014 draft, starts training camp on the physically unable to perform list — which is the expectation at this point — and he is not activated from that list at any point during the season, his contract would toll, adding another season of team control.
And if he does play in 2017, the Vikings could negotiate a new contract with Bridgewater or use the franchise or transition tag to lock him in for 2018.
Bridgewater, who dislocated his left knee and tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a noncontact practice drill last August, has been at Winter Park for their offseason workout program, continuing to rehab his surgically repaired knee.
“He has been incredible,” General Manager Rick Spielman said of Bridgewater last week. “He’s been in here working as hard as anyone, fighting his way back. I wouldn’t put it past that kid how quickly he can come back. But it’s still unknown.”
USA Today first reported that Bridgewater was told his option would not be exercised.
The Vikings officially announced Monday that Barr’s option had been picked up, which was not surprising despite a disappointing season from him in 2016.
Barr was one of the NFL’s top outside linebackers in 2015 and was rewarded with his first trip to the Pro Bowl. But in his third season, despite another Pro Bowl nod as an alternate, his performance dipped and the splash plays he produced in his first couple of seasons dried up. At one point in the second half of the season, coach Mike Zimmer said Barr had “a tendency to coast a little.”
Last week, Barr vowed to be better, saying he needed to improve in a few areas.
Barr is one of 22 first-round picks from 2014 who as of Monday afternoon have had their options exercised, according to Pro Football Talk. Two of the 32 first-rounders, including former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, already have been released by the teams that drafted them.