EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Throughout the 2017 Vikings season, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was able to balance his personal goals of returning to the football field from a severe knee injury with a team-first mentality.
Bridgewater spoke to media members at his locker Monday morning, following Minnesota's tough defeat by Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.
When asked to look back over the year from a personal standpoint, Bridgewater – who returned to the active roster in November but played just one offensive series – said it "was a great year."
"It tested my character, and I think I handled everything well," Bridgewater said. "But like I said earlier, this year wasn't about me. It was about this locker room, this team, this organization – and what we were able to do this year was unbelievable.
"It just speaks volumes about this team – the guys in this locker room, coaching staff – a group of fighters," Bridgewater continued. "Guys who know what it's like to face adversity and overcome it."
The 25-year-old quarterback knows a bit about adversity after two seasons of watching his teammates from the sidelines rather than being under center.
Bridgewater backed up Case Keenum for the second half of the season before Sam Bradford was taken off the Injured Reserve list on Jan. 13. Bridgewater was listed as inactive for the Vikings Divisional round game against the Saints and in Sunday's matchup at Philadelphia.
Again, however, Bridgewater pointed to the priority of the team.
"Like I said, this year, I think the biggest test for me was the test of my character. So in a perfect world, I would have loved to be dressing, but I understand that decisions are made to give this team the best chance to win," Bridgewater said. "I understand that, and I'm a pro. I know what it takes. So it just happened, and I dealt with it."
The contracts for Bridgewater, Keenum and Bradford are all set to expire.
When reporters' questions shifted to contracts and free agency, Bridgewater circled back to the 2017 Vikings who finished 13-3 in the regular season and played for an NFC title for the first time since the 2009 season.
"This year, this team, we did some great things," Bridgewater emphasized. "A lot of guys stepped up this year and made plays for this team – a lot of the young guys, a lot of the older guys, and it took a team effort to accomplish what we accomplished this year. We set goals back in the spring, and we were able to check off a lot of those goals on the list.
View images from 'move out day' as players said their goodbyes and cleared out their lockers at Winter Park on Monday.
"Unfortunately we weren't able to get the ultimate goal, but I'm just proud of this locker room – from the Pat Elfleins to the Dalvin Cooks, Joe Bergers, Adam Thielen – everyone stepped up this year and contributed to all of our success."
Bridgewater did confirm that he feels "great" physically and continues to have confidence in his ability to once again lead a team on the football field.
"I probably feel better than I've felt in a while," Bridgewater said. "I don't know what the future holds. Still don't the 24-hour rule with yesterday, so still dealing with that. I'm just going to take it one day at a time."