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Omar Kelly: Teddy Bridgewater must decide if he's willing to bet on himself and sign with Dolphins

Sun Sentinel — By Omar Kelly Sun Sentinel

March 14-- Put the money to the side. Money comes and goes.

Ignore Teddy Bridgewater's desire to finally play for his hometown team, putting Miami on his back as the starting quarterback of the Dolphins.

Bridgewater's decision of whether to sign with the Dolphins or return to New Orleans on a one-year deal reportedly worth $7 million comes down to one simple question.

Which organization values him more?

Is it the Saints, the team that traded for him before last season and is reportedly offering him more money in 2019 than the Dolphins are offering him as a potential starter?

New Orleans possibly wants to groom Bridgewater to be Drew Brees' successor when the future Hall of Fame quarterback eventually retires. At least that's the story he's being told.

Or is it the rebuilding Dolphins, the only team in the NFL that will give Bridgewater a legitimate chance to become an NFL starter this upcoming season?

The Dolphins hosted Bridgewater, who still lives in South Florida, on a free-agent visit Wednesday, making one final pitch before he makes his decision. But the former Louisville standout left without signing a contract, and it is unknown whether Miami sweetened the two-year, $10 million offer the Sun Sentinel previously reported.

Starting veteran starting quarterbacks in the NFL usually make at least twice that amount, so that might indicate how much the Dolphins value Bridgewater.

The organization considers him a bridge quarterback, someone who can hold the organization down for a season or two until a young, promising and sellable quarterback is ready to take over.

Considering the plight of bridge quarterbacks like Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Tyrod Taylor and A.J. McCarron, history isn't on Bridgewater's side if he says "I do" to the wandering-eye Dolphins. Miami is embarking on a scorched-earth rebuild, which includes moving on from QB Ryan Tannehill, who hasn't been released as of Thursday.

The Dolphins seem to have their sights set on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft if he stays healthy and declares for next year's draft. To get Tagovailoa, the Dolphins likely need to be the worst team in the NFL to lock up the No. 1 pick.

However, there's no guarantee that Bridgewater can beat out a rookie quarterback Miami might draft this year, especially if Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins and Missouri's Drew Lock are on the board when Miami picks in the first round.

Still, the temptation of staying in Miami, being cheered on by family and friends and reuniting with fellow Louisville alum DeVante Parker has to intrigue Bridgewater, who has a 85.9 career passer rating from the 27 starts he's made in four seasons.

There are only 32 opportunities to become a starting quarterback in the NFL, and if Bridgewater bets on himself and accepts what Miami is offering, he could change the narrative of his career, putting himself in a new quarterback tier.

This decision comes down to how much Bridgewater and his team trust the Dolphins' organization to give him a fair shot, and whether he's willing to bet on himself.

The Dolphins should sweeten their offer to Bridgewater by throwing in incentives for regular season starts ($100,000 per game), and a playoff bonus ($1 million). He has led an NFL team to the playoffs before, and nobody knows what he will do when put in position to silence his critics yet again.

That's part of the appeal to Bridgewater, the fact that he's overcome a great deal of adversity to find himself in this position.

South Florida hasn't produced many starting quarterbacks the past two decades, and he's one of the few who have made it in the NFL.

I'll be comfortable with whatever decision Bridgewater makes. But deep down, I hope Bridgewater does pick Miami because a local product deserves a chance to put this team, and this community on his back.

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