The Carolina Panthers could be looking to trade Teddy Bridgewater after sending a 2021 sixth-round pick as well as second and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft to acquire Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. Bridgewater, the incumbent, may find himself on the outside looking in following the move. With a potentially historic quarterback draft class on the horizon, what are some of the best landing spots for Bridgewater?
Will Teddy Bridgewater be traded?
The cost of the trade for Darnold, combined with the Panthers exercising his fifth-year option (keeping him with the team through the 2022 season), it is clear that the organization views him as the starter. This likely signals the end for Bridgewater, who started 15 games for the Panthers in 2020.
Bridgewater has two years remaining on the three-year deal that he signed a year ago. However, the Panthers structured the contract in a way that made it likely he wouldn’t be on the team in 2022. The 2021 season is the final year of the deal with guaranteed money, meaning that if the team wanted to cut or trade Bridgewater after this season, they could do so without incurring any dead cap.
Bridgewater has a $22.95 million cap hit in 2021, but $10 million of that will stay with the Panthers as dead money. The Panthers would benefit from an extra $13 million to spend, while any team who acquires Bridgewater would gain a relatively inexpensive quarterback.
Panthers QB Carousel: Potential landing spots for Bridgewater via trade
Pro Football Network Insider Benjamin Allbright has been reporting since December that the Broncos could bring in a quarterback to compete with Drew Lock. Allbright tweeted that he understands there have been inquiries made regarding Bridgewater reuniting with new Broncos general manager George Paton. Paton was in Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater, but Allbright believes Bridgewater’s contract is larger than the Broncos would be willing to take on.
The Broncos undoubtedly want to see Lock make the leap and become a franchise quarterback. If Bridgewater can help him do that, he could be worth bringing in. If it becomes a genuine competition and Bridgewater wins, the Broncos will be in safe hands, even if they would not be the explosive offense they’d like.
New England Patriots
The Patriots recently re-signed 2020 starter Cam Newton, so they may appear an unlikely landing spot for Bridgewater. It was a one-year, incentive-laden deal for Newton and certainly not one that precludes them from bringing in another veteran. If Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels decide that Bridgewater is more of a fit for what they want to do, they can easily make the numbers work.
It’s looking more and more likely that the Patriots, who hold the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will miss out on the top five QBs. If the team is unwilling to trade up and does not want to reach for the next tier, a game manager like Bridgewater could complement a strong defense and running game and allow the Patriots to compete in an increasingly strong AFC East.
New Orleans Saints
Nobody seems to know which direction the Saints will go in at quarterback following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The team re-signed Jameis Winston to a much richer deal than the one he played on in 2020, but question marks still exist.
When Brees missed time with injury last season, head coach Sean Payton turned to utility player Taysom Hill rather than Winston. Hill was inconsistent, showing both his strengths and limitations, but Payton has publicly stated before that he believes he is a future franchise QB and could lead the team long-term.
Bridgewater spent two seasons in New Orleans, joining the team as he looked to rebuild his career after a devastating knee injury. As the backup to Brees, he started six games for the Saints, stepping into the starting role seamlessly in 2019. He threw 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions as he helped the Saints to a 5-0 record in Brees’ absence.
He left in free agency to join the Panthers, but Payton made it clear on several occasions that Bridgewater deserved to be a starter, and he was happy for him when he signed with the Panthers. Payton knows that the team can win with Bridgewater and general manager Mickey Loomis loves nothing more than trying to squeeze another contract under the salary cap. Could the Saints make a move for their former backup?
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