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NFL Draft

Teddy Bridgewater’s NFL Future Could Be Out West

  • The Draft Network
  • April 8, 2021
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The Carolina Panthers’ blockbuster trade for Sam Darnold will continue to affect the quarterback market. Darnold will join a rebuilding team, hoping to prove he was a victim of egregious coaching and a dysfunctional system. 

After news of the trade broke Monday, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer addressed the next logical question: What’s next for Teddy Bridgewater?

“We're going to find the right place [for] him, whether it's here or someplace else,” Fitterer said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person.  

Bridgewater spent the 2020 season as Carolina’s starting quarterback where he finished with a 4-11 record. It was a disappointing season following Bridgewater’s previous success in New Orleans; in his second season with the Saints, Bridgewater went 5-0 as their starter while Drew Brees nursed an injury. 

Bridgewater’s efforts with the Saints eventually put him under center in Carolina for the bulk of the 2020 season. He was able to have career-high marks in passing yards (3,733), touchdowns (15), completion percentage (69.1), and quarterback rating (62.4) in his first season as a starter since 2015 with the Minnesota Vikings. It was expected the Panthers would move on from Bridgewater sooner rather than later and their actions since coupled with Fitterer’s comments make it clear Bridgewater will likely find his fourth team in as many years. 

While the previously open and fluid quarterback market is taking shape, there are still a number of teams that could use a journeyman like Bridgewater.

New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or New England could be potential destinations. Teams like Denver and San Francisco could also use Bridgewater as ample competition for a young quarterback or a bridge until they find a franchise passer; these two teams seemingly provide the best option for playing time. Bridgewater has the opportunity to talk with teams and chose a future destination, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who also noted Carolina is still an option. 

The Panthers have been unable to find a trade partner for Bridgewater, and his contract is an added complication. Bridgewater is due a base salary of $17 million this year; $10 million of that is guaranteed. With two years remaining on his current contract, and a $20 million salary slated for 2022, Bridgewater will likely take a pay cut elsewhere.

There was brief speculation the Saints would be interested in Bridgewater but have since signed Jameis Winston, nulling Bridgewater’s chances of returning to New Orleans as a starting quarterback. The Falcons and Buccaneers also have less promising paths for Bridgewater to hold a starting position in the coming seasons. The most reasonable option would still be out west with the 49ers or the Broncos.

San Francisco, which traded up to the third-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will likely add a rookie quarterback to the roster. Bridgewater can create healthy quarterback competition for a green player while also providing veteran leadership if the team chooses him over Jimmy Garoppolo. Similarly, the Broncos have a big decision to make under center and their starting quarterback is still “up in the air.” Drew Lock has been disappointing and, again, Bridgewater can bring necessarily competition to the quarterback room or be a bridge option for Denver. 

There should be ample interest in Bridgewater despite his 2020 record and 11 interceptions thrown last season. Between now and the 2021 NFL Draft, beginning April 29, it would benefit the Panthers to trade Bridgewater for some draft capital, if available, or players that fit other areas of need rather than wait to cut him later in the fall. Carolina seems open to working with Bridgewater to find a team that will benefit from one of the better passers left on the market and itself; now, it’s a waiting game to see what team will be willing to roll the dice.

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