METAIRIE, La. — Ironically, the higher Teddy Bridgewater plays the saints on Sunday, the tougher it may be in order to allow them to maintain him beyond this season.

The 26-year-old quarter back is already poised to become one of the very interesting players in the NFL free-agent market next season — especially as a thin draft class to QBs got thinner this week after Oregon’s Justin Herbert announced his choice to stay in school.

However, Bridgewater may boost his market value a lot more if he plays in his first significant action as the 2015 season.

The Saints, who have already locked up the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a 13-2 record, have not announced whether Drew Brees or even Bridgewater will begin Sunday’s match (1 ET, Fox) contrary to the Carolina Panthers. However, in any event, Bridgewater will play extensively for the first time since he suffered a catastrophic knee injury with the Minnesota Vikings at summer time of 20-16.

“Whatever happens Sunday I will be excited, only thinking about the street I’ve had to carry to just get to this point,” said Bridgewater, a first-round draft pick from Louisville at 2014, who went 17-12 as a rookie for the Vikings, including one playoff loss on his latest launch at January 2016. “So I am excited. I am excited for this team. I am excited to be in the position we’re in now.”

Bridgewater’s free bureau will be more fascinating, because he could choose to join a team which needs a beginner right off — and potentially begin a bidding war due to the absence of viable options at his location. Or he could think about staying in New Orleans to await Brees to retire. Brees, who turns 40 in Januaryhe’s consistently said he believes he could play at a high level until he is 4-5 yrs of age, however he’s also suggested he might rather not play long.

It’s tough to assume the Saints being able to afford both of them, though, unless Bridgewater is willing to give a severe reduction to his brand team.

Therefore maybe the Saints desire him to flourish Sunday afterall so he decides he never wishes to leave Sean Payton’s successful offense.

“I can not predict what’s from the future,” Bridgewater said. “I have to regulate what’s in the front of me right now. And that’s an opportunity to play this Sunday or simply continuing for a terrific teammate. Maybe not looking later on, just continuing to go on one day at any given time.”

However he enhanced his market value quite a little throughout the pre season by playing well and showing that he was more healthy — so much so New Orleans traded a third-round choice to the Jets to acquire him.

At the time, the Saints confessed they wanted to both shore up their backup QB standing and potentially have a closer look at Bridgewater as a potential future replacement Brees.

However, when asked this week how he would have the capability to”turn back it on” for Week 17, Bridgewater replied,”I never turned it off”

“Being at the career that I am in, you always have to stay ready,” Bridgewater said. “And that is my mindset since I’ve came here. Your opportunity will come inside a blink of an eye. Luckily, I haven’t needed to be rushed outthere. However, I have to remain prepared”

Payton had any good personal recommendations on Bridgewater out of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who is a close friend of his own, and out of Bill Parcells, who is a mentor for both Payton and Bridgewater.

Payton was impressed by what he’s seen from the younger QB.

“He’s smart, he is someone I think picks up things fast. He’s successful,” Payton said. “He’s someone that quickly acquired our system. And you guys do not have to see it, but at practice, while it is together with the scout group, you see that the arm strength and you see him make all of the cries.”

Bridgewater said it was invaluable to see Brees work every day and learn from him being a new quarterback.

And he’s adopted his character with all the NFC South champions, and actually going viral about social networking along with his “Bike Life” dance moves after victories.

“It’s been a ton of fun, only being here in New Orleans with this team, this particular city, these fans, this organization. It has been one of a kind,” Bridgewater said. “To come to work each and every day, it is an amiable environment with all guys, everyone here, we’re shooting basketballs, playing pingpong within our downtime. We’ve just got that amazing team camaraderie. And it’s great to be a part of it”

Bridgewater said when he reflects what it took him to accomplish this time after 2016 injury in he articulates his left kneetore his ACL among multiple different tendons and endured other structural damage,”It just took teamwork. That is the easiest way I can set it”

“From medical staff to this strength and conditioning staff to nutritionists to the guys in the lockerroom,” Bridgewater said. “It took a collective energy for this time, and I am very excited about it”

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