The Denver Broncos think Teddy Bridgewater can solve their quarterback problems, at least for the upcoming season. Denver acquired Bridgewater in a trade with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers received a sixth-round draft pick in return for Bridgewater. They will also be responsible for absorbing 70% of his salary. The Broncos will only have to pay $3 million to Bridgewater this upcoming season, while the Panthers are on the hook for $7 million.
Last season, Bridgewater passed for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 15 games. He also added five rushing touchdowns. The Panthers struggled with a 4-11 record in the games that Bridgewater started.
Bridgewater, 28, impressed everyone in the league two seasons ago as a backup QB for the New Orleans Saints. Bridgewater went 8-0 as a starter for the Saints when he replaced Drew Brees after Brees injured his thumb. His stellar performance earned Bridgewater a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers worth $63 million. The Panthers renegotiated his contract before the trade, which will save them $26 million next season.
Bridgewater has a career record of 26-23 as a starter.
Carolina QB Shuffle: Darnold In, Bridgewater Out
We hear a lot of rumors in days before the NFL Draft, and this one was spot on. Bridgewater knew his days were numbered after the Panthers acquired Sam Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets.
Darnold had his soul sucked out of him playing under Adam Gase for the past two seasons. The Panthers gambled that Darnold will have a remarkable turnaround, much like Ryan Tannehill did in his post-Gase years. When Tannehill played under Gase in Miami, he looked awful. As soon as he recovered from Gase-induced PTSD, Tannnhill flourished with the Tennessee Titans. Darnold played so awful under Gase, he was seeing ghosts. Darnold has an opportunity to thrive under Panthers head coach Matt Rhule.
Bridgewater and the Panthers didn’t gel as much as they hoped they would last season. He threw only one touchdown in the fourth quarter all season, and the Panthers lost eight close contests due to their inability to close out games.
The organization acquired Darnold as a reclamation project, but they could snag Justin Fields (Ohio State) in the upcoming NFL Draft if his stock continues to fall. The Panthers have the #8 pick in the draft.
The Broncos were among the quarterback-deficient teams interested in Bridgewater, along with the Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team.
Broncos QB Shuffle: Bridgewater In, Lock Out?
The Broncos hired George Paton as their new general manager. Paton said he likes Drew Lock and believes the quarterback has a future in the league. Of course, he didn’t specify if that future was with the Broncos. Lock threw 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 13 games with the Broncos last season, but went only 5-9 as a starter.
Paton previously worked for the Minnesota Vikings. He drafted Bridgewater with a late first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. In his second season, Bridgewater led the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC North division title. Bridgewater blew out his ACL and missed the entire 2016 season.
“Acquiring Teddy Bridgewater adds competition, experience and a strong veteran presence to our quarterback room,” said Paton. “He’s a talented player and leader who’s had success in this league in a number of different situations.”
After he recovered from surgery, Bridgewater spent two seasons as Brees’ backup in New Orleans before becoming an everyday starter again with the Panthers in 2020.
“Being familiar with Teddy from Minnesota, he’s going to compete and do everything he can to help us win,” Paton said.
With the #9 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos were listed at +400 odds to select Fields. The Panthers are one of the co-favorites at +300 to grab Fields.
The Broncos will pounce on Fields if he’s available with the ninth pick. Otherwise, he’ll most likely fall to the middle of the round where the New England Patriots will snatch him up with the #15 pick.