Teddy Bridgewater Trade Rumors: Panthers QB Can Seek Move After Darnold Deal

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2021

Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater warms up before an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers reportedly informed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater he can make contact with other teams to help "facilitate a trade" after the team acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets on Monday.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Tuesday the Panthers are "open" to keeping Bridgewater but want to give him a chance to explore other potential opportunities.

Carolina signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract last March.

The former Minnesota Vikings starter had shown promising signs during a five-game stint as the New Orleans Saints' starter in 2019 while filling in for the injured Drew Brees. He threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions while leading the team to a 5-0 record.

It represented his first substantial playing time since suffering severe knee injuries, including a torn ACL, during a training camp practice with the Vikings in August 2016. He was coming off a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 before the major setback.

Bridgewater didn't play poorly in 2020. He completed 69.1 percent of his throws for 3,733 yards across 15 appearances. But he also wasn't a game-changer with just 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, though he added 279 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.

The 28-year-old Miami native ranked 17th in ESPN's Total QBR (64.2) and received a mediocre 66 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

By comparison, Darnold ranked 33rd in Total QBR (40.1) and earned a 58.4 PFF grade.

So it's no guarantee the quarterback change will amount to an upgrade for the Panthers, but head coach Matt Rhule and Co. are betting on the upside of the 2018 third overall pick over what they witnessed from Bridgewater in his first year in their system.

"Teddy is a tremendous professional and a tremendous person," Rhule said in March. "So I can't speak for him, but I think he's controlling what he can control. He's having a great offseason, I'm sure. I can't wait to get him back here. I think he's determined to play his best football next year."

Bridgewater may not generate a lot of interest right away as quarterback-needy teams are currently jockeying for position atop the 2021 NFL draft, with the San Francisco 49ers already trading up to the No. 3 slot and more moves likely to come leading up to the April 29 event.

Once the dust settles, however, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a team that missed out on a quarterback in both free agency and the draft reach out to the Panthers about the former University of Louisville standout.