Still having pain and clearly not able to step into throws during an abbreviated return to the lineup Monday night against the Bears, Bradford traveled to New York late this past week to begin Regenokine treatments in hopes of getting inflammation out of his ailing knee, according to sources familiar with the plan.
The treatments involve drawing Bradford's blood, spinning it down and then reinjecting it into the knee over five or six days. Numerous pro athletes have had the treatments in the past, including members of the Seattle Seahawks.
Sources said Bradford has been doing everything he can to get the knee joint to calm down since he suffered a non-contact bone bruise in his left knee -- the same one in which he twice has had ACL reconstruction -- during his brilliant performance in the Vikings' Week 1 win over New Orleans. He missed three games, then returned against the Bears, only to get pulled in the second quarter when it became apparent the encouraging signs he showed in practice weren't carrying over at game speed.
Bridgewater has spent much longer working his way back from his knee injury. And the spotlight is finally about to shine on him.
He'll receive a key checkup and physical Monday from his Dallas-based physician Dr. Dan Cooper, who originally repaired a knee that needed a multi-ligament reconstruction after a dislocation in August 2016. Bridgewater missed all of last season and began this season on the physically unable to perform list. He's eligible to begin practice this week, and the physical will go a long way in determining that. The team has 21 days to determine whether Bridgewater can practice and if they'll move him to the active roster.
Sources close to Bridgewater say he is ready to go. He has had no setbacks, and nothing should hold him back during his physical. The team has made no decision regarding his status and won't until after the physical. A decision could be this week; it could be next week. He has been throwing and doing football activities in rehab, but obviously practice is different. The Vikings do believe he's working incredibly hard and has done everything he needs to do.
Then there is the matter of Bridgewater's contract, which has been the subject of some debate.
Per Article 20, Section 2 of the collective bargaining agreement, if a player is in the final year of his contract and is unable to perform as of the sixth game, his contract tolls. It seems clear, then, that Bridgewater -- on the physically unable to perform list for the sixth game -- would have his contract activated for 2018 and keep him from free agency. If it's determined by all parties that he's not physically able to play, it will toll.
But sources say tolling is unlikely to be an issue if Bridgewater ultimately is activated, which is expected. That means his contract would expire as scheduled in March. He'd become a free agent, and the NFL Players Association wouldn't object to that.
This raises the possibility of the Vikings ending up with three quarterbacks who have starting experience on their roster sometime around (or probably after) their Week 9 bye. A new challenge, but certainly better than having none.