The Carolina Panthers already made quarterback waves this offseason when they announced they released Cam Newton and added Teddy Bridgewater, but they reportedly already have their eyes on options in the 2021 NFL draft.
"The team is high on the 2021 quarterbacks [in the draft]," an NFL source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "But Teddy gives them flexibility either way. You don't have to draft a quarterback with him in the fold, but he's a good guy to learn from if you do."
While there is a potential out in 2022, Bridgewater is not scheduled for unrestricted free agency until 2023.
As the source suggested, the University of Louisville product could be a stopgap between Newton and whichever quarterback the Panthers select in the 2021 draft while also mentoring the rookie.
Bridgewater looked like more than a mentor, though, when he led the New Orleans Saints to a 5-0 record in five starts during the 2019 season when Drew Brees was sidelined by injury. In all, he completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions while appearing in nine games last year.
He had as many wins in five starts as the entire Panthers team had during a 5-11 effort and will now have the chance to take over the reins as the full-time starter in a difficult NFC South.
However, there will be a number of talented options in the 2021 draft, including Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields. They both made the College Football Playoff last season and figure to compete for the Heisman Trophy and another shot at the championship in 2020.
A future with the Panthers may be waiting for one of them.