Head coach Mike Zimmer wanted to make that clear on Tuesday.
"I think Sam has played great this year, No. 1," Zimmer said, via Twincities.com. "I think he's earned the right to be the starting quarterback, and right now all I'm worried about is Teddy getting better ... Sam has done remarkable, the things he's done this year with all the things that he's had to do."
Zimmer wasn't sure if or when Bridgewater was coming back. Bridgewater dislocated his knee and tore his ACL during a practice back in early September.
"Teddy is a guy that will do everything possible to get back as soon as he can possibly get back," he said. "And he would be a guy that I would never bet against."
Bradford finished his first season in Minnesota with a 7-8 record, 3,877 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He completed a career-high 71.6 percent of his passes and tied a career high in yards per attempt (7). His average passer rate (99.3) was by far the highest of his career.
Before we stand accused of crowning him an elite passer in a division full of good quarterbacks, Bradford's numbers this season were better than those of Tyrod Taylor's 2015 numbers, which earned Taylor an alternate nod to the Pro Bowl -- meaning, they were good. Above average. Is there reason to expect that a finally-healthy Bradford, with a better offensive line and a continually progressing receiving corps, can get even better?
The bonus in trading for Bradford was that he was already under contract through the 2017 season, which lessens complications should Bridgewater's recovery take longer. It seems like Zimmer is eyeing that possibility and he wants to get any lingering questions out of the way as their offseason begins.