Hey Teddy! What’s Next?

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) looks to pass in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It just might have been the worst kept secret in the NFL: the Carolina Panthers were in the market for a new signal-caller. While most connected the dots to Deshaun Watson, the Panthers went a different direction. Whether that’s because the Panthers could not offer enough capital in return Deshaun, or if the Panthers elected not to pursue Watson due to recent allegations will remain a mystery.

Instead, the Panthers turned to the 2018 third-overall pick, Sam Darnold. Carolina had been reportedly in talks with the Jets for weeks, perhaps a similar time when the Watson allegations began. Compensation continued to creep upward until the Jets could no longer say no. It wasn’t until this afternoon went the trade officially went down, in what is another domino for this upcoming draft. Adam Schefter has it below with the official trade details.

This trade has three significant implications. One, the Carolina Panthers have found their new QB. Two, Sam Darnold has found a new home and hopefully a fresh start to his career. And finally, it has shaped the direction of the Jets’ future. The New York Jets will most likely select QB Zach Wilson with the second-overall pick in a few weeks and give Wilson the keys to the franchise.

However, there is one another critical impact due to this trade. That lies in Teddy Bridgewater. Teddy hit the open market in the last offseason and signed a three-year $63 million contract with the Panthers. In what would be his first season as the official starter since his devastating knee injury before the start of his third year. Now over a year later, the Panthers have officially moved on. While there is some chance Teddy remains with the squad, it seems undoubtful the Panthers trade a second-round pick for a QB to not be the starter.

During the 2020 season, his first season as a full-time starter since 2016, Bridgewater passed for over 3,700 yards with a 69.1% completion percentage. He also finished the season with a 92.1 QB rating and only 11 interceptions. The issue here is, Bridgewater only passed for 15 touchdowns, producing a 1.36:1 touchdown to interception ratio. However, anytime a QB passes for over 3,700 yards and shows incredible accuracy, interest will be drawn.

Ian Rapoport gives the rundown on what to expect between the Panthers and Teddy.

All signs are pointing to a divorce between the two parties. Don’t be surprised if a trade gets done sooner rather than later, especially with the draft right around the corner. With that, let’s dive into the top suitors to land Teddy B.

Possible but Unlikely

Many potential trade partners could wind up pulling the trigger for Teddy. For example, the two that come to mind immediately are the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints.

As for the Saints, the history is certainly there. Before joining the Panthers, Teddy served as the Saints’ backup QB. Both Sean Payton and Teddy have shown their appreciativeness and respect towards one another, and a reunion could be in the works. However, given the Saints’ current cap situation combined with the fact that they have already committed money to Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, it seems unlikely the Saints add another chef to their kitchen.

Similar situation for the Patriots as well. They have already committed to Cam Newton on a one-year deal. Given the vastly different play styles of the two QBs, it seems unlikely the Patriots would make a move. However, Bridgewater would be an ideal QB for the Patriots. As a system QB and game-manager type, he could be exactly what the Patriots are looking for. Belichick’s defense and special teams unit simply needs a QB who will not lose them the game. They may not be able to win it by themselves, but they certainly won’t lose it either. This may be enough to convince Belichick to commit to Teddy over Newton.

Other than the Saints and Patriots, it seems like it will be a two-team race to land Teddy.

Washington Football Team

Unless the Washington Football Team has convinced themselves that either Taylor Heinicke or Ryan Fitzpatrick can be the guy to lead them to the playoffs, then WFT should undoubtedly be in the market for Teddy. After reaching the playoffs with Alex Smith, adding a younger QB with more potential could be the move that puts them into contenders’ status.

Keep in mind, with their draft position, it seems unlikely they land a top signal-caller in the draft. Fitzpatrick’s addition and re-signing Heinicke seem like good options for potential bridge quarterbacks, but again can they lead their team to the playoffs? With WFT’s stingy defense and young playmakers, Bridgewater would be placed in an ideal position to succeed. After all, Teddy has shown he can lead his team to the playoffs (2015) when provided with a strong defense and supporting cast. In doing so, WFT can instead use their draft capital to continue to bolster the trenches and build around Teddy

Denver Broncos

Again, it’s no secret the Broncos are looking to move on from Drew Lock. In fact, Ben Allbright has been reporting since December that the Broncos are looking to bring in competition for the QB1 position. After only playing in 5 games in 2019, Lock proceeded to play 13 in 2020, where he completed 57.3% of his passes for 2,933 yards, 16 TDs, and 15 INT. 4 more picks than Teddy, despite three fewer games. The completion percentage is absolutely abysmal. Add in Lock’s four fumbles, and it’s clear Lock is not the answer as their franchise QB.

Let’s be honest, the Broncos roster is stacked. Well, except for the QB position. Behind defensive mastermind Vic Fangio, the Broncos should field one of the top defensive units. On the offensive side of the ball, they’ll have Cortland Sutton returning, which will be essential no matter who the QB is. With this roster, the Broncos are in win-now mode.

The instrumental connection here is Broncos’ GM George Paton. Paton was in Minnesota when they selected Teddy at the end of the first round. And it has been said Paton plays a prominent role in the draft evaluation and process in general. A push from Paton to reunite with Teddy certainly makes a lot of sense.

Adding Teddy to the roster should be an ideal fit. With their defense, Teddy will be asked to manage the game and not lose it for them. Similar to what he did in Minnesota with Mike Zimmer. Limiting the turnovers and keeping the chain movings with high percentage passes will be key. They would also then be able to use their top 10 draft pick to build the trenches and protect Teddy as much as possible or possibly add to an already stingy defense.

Either way, Paton and the Broncos should be aggressive in trying to acquire Teddy. Keep in mind that the Panthers do not have much leverage in the situation, and the Broncos should net him for a relatively low cost. Given it cost the Panthers a second-round pick to acquire Darnold, a third at highest should be enough to bring in Teddy, which in today’s NFL is practically chump change.