Teddy Bridgewater

Panthers QB Notes: Darnold, Mayfield, Rhule, Herbert, Stafford, Tepper, Watson

Although the Panthers are starting Baker Mayfield in Week 11, they want to see Sam Darnold in action this season. Steve Wilks said he would like to give Darnold some work, though the interim HC did not indicate that would be certain to happen this week against the Ravens. “I’m interested in winning the game. This is not pay $250 to get to play,” Wilks said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter).

Carolina used one of its injury activations to move Darnold onto its 53-man roster last week, but the former No. 3 overall pick did not see any action against the Falcons. P.J. Walker is out of the picture for the time being, after becoming the third Carolina QB this season to suffer a high ankle sprain. Mayfield will make his first start since sustaining his ankle injury in Week 9. Here is the latest from what has become one of the more complex QB situations in recent NFL history:

  • After playing hurt last season, Mayfield has not turned it around. On the radar for a potential franchise-QB deal in 2021, Mayfield is on track for free agency for the first time. The market for the former No. 1 overall pick may check in at $5-$7MM on a prove-it deal, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Mayfield’s 17.7 QBR ranks last in the NFL.
  • This situation has been in flux since Cam Newton‘s 2019 foot injury. Prior to the team making the Newton-for-Teddy Bridgewater change, GM Marty Hurney and most of the Panthers’ scouts were high on Justin Herbert. But Matt Rhule did not view 2020 as the window to draft a quarterback, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com indicating in an expansive piece the team saw a jump from No. 7 overall to No. 4 — ahead of the QB-seeking Dolphins and Chargers — as too costly. While then-Giants GM Dave Gettleman was not keen on trading down, going most of his GM career without ever doing so, the Panthers not making a push for Herbert has led to QB chaos.
  • After the Panthers determined Bridgewater — a preference of former OC Joe Brady — would be a one-and-done in Charlotte, they made a big offer for Matthew Stafford. Negotiations between new Panthers GM Scott Fitterer and Lions rookie GM Brad Holmes at the 2021 Senior Bowl led to Panthers brass leaving Mobile believing they were set to acquire Stafford, Fowler notes. It is interesting to learn how far the GMs progressed in talks, because Stafford made it known soon after he did not want to play for the Panthers. The Rams then came in late with their two-first-rounder offer, forcing the Panthers and others to look elsewhere.
  • Rhule then pushed hard for Darnold, Fowler adds, after Panthers staffers went through film sessions evaluating he, Carson Wentz and Drew Lock. The Panthers sent the Jets second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks for the former No. 3 overall pick and picked up his guaranteed $18.9MM fifth-year option. Owner David Tepper begrudgingly picked up the option but became irked by the 2023 cost hanging over the franchise, per Fowler. Tepper is believed to have held up this year’s Mayfield trade talks in order to move the Browns to pick up more money on his option salary. The delay was connected to the Panthers already having Darnold’s fifth-year option to pay.
  • Tepper’s main prize during this multiyear QB odyssey, Deshaun Watson, was leery of the Panthers’ staff uncertainty, Fowler adds. All things being equal between the four finalists — Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, New Orleans — the Panthers were not believed to be Watson’s first choice. The Falcons were viewed as the team that would have landed Watson if the Browns did not make that unprecedented $230MM guarantee offer.
  • Fitterer offered support for a Mitch Trubisky signing this offseason, according to Fowler, who adds the team never engaged in extended talks with Jimmy Garoppolo‘s camp. While Garoppolo said the Panthers were in the mix, the team was believed to be leery of his injury history. Trubisky is in Year 1 of a two-year, $14.3MM deal. While Trubisky may well be available again in 2023, the Panthers — having added six draft picks from the Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson trades — will be connected to this year’s crop of QB prospects.

Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater Clear Concussion Protocol

Skylar Thompson is expected to start for the Dolphins tomorrow, but the team’s other quarterbacks got some good news today regarding their health. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Tua Tagovailoa cleared concussion protocol this morning. The starting QB will still be sidelined for tomorrow’s game against the Vikings, but he should be good to go for Week 7 against the Steelers.

Schefter adds (on Twitter) that Teddy Bridgewater also cleared concussion protocol today. Bridgewater is expected to be in uniform for Sunday’s contest, but he’ll serve as the backup to Thompson.

Tua’s late-September concussion kicked off an NFL investigation regarding the team’s handling of the head injury. However, sources made it clear to Schefter that the organization went above and beyond to assure he was healthy enough to clear protocol. Specifically, the Dolphins, the QB, and “his team of independent doctors followed a thorough process that far exceeded the NFL’s concussion protocol,” per Schefter’s source. In addition to advice from team doctors, Tua also referred to four outside opinions “who unanimously cleared him from protocol and all agreed that his scans showed no signs of long-term impact on the brain.” Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), Tua traveled to Detroit and Pittsburgh to meet with doctors, and the QB suffered no setbacks during the process.

Bridgewater was never diagnosed with a concussion but was still required to go through the NFL’s protocol. Both Bridgewater and Tagovailoa were spotted at practice this week, and indication that their return was imminent.

While the Dolphins will soon get reinforcement at the position, they’ll be rolling with a rookie seventh-round pick this weekend. Thompson entered last weekend’s loss to the Jets and completed 19 of his 33 pass attempts for 166 yards and one interception. He also lost one fumble. With Thompson eyeing his first NFL start, he received a ringing endorsement from head coach Mike McDaniel.

“We were really excited to draft him,” McDaniel said (via NFL.com’s Grant Gordon). “That was a target of ours that we had on our mind. We didn’t have a plethora of draft selections, so it was easy to hone in on people and we were targeting him for a long time. And that being said, he’s exceeded expectations.”

Matt Rhule Latest: QBs, Giants, Brady

Despite authorizing a seven-year contract to lure Matt Rhule from Baylor, Panthers owner David Tepper cut the cord this week. Tepper did so less than three years after he outmuscled the Giants for Rhule, who was believed to have preferred the Giants job to the one he ended up taking. After the Giants sent a private plane for Rhule’s January 2020 interview, Tepper upped his offer from six years to seven, according to Joe Person of The Athletic (subscription required). The seven-year, $62MM contract ensured Rhule never boarded that plane.

Although Rhule reached out to the Giants to see if they would match, John Mara viewed such a contract as exorbitant for a coach without much NFL experience. Still, the Giants preferred Rhule to Joe Judge that year. The Panthers, who paid Baylor a $6MM buyout fee in 2020, will not be forced to pay out Rhule’s guaranteed $40MM-plus remaining. Carolina is on the hook for Rhule’s 2022 salary, but the remaining cash will be offset by the coach’s next college gig — whenever that comes to pass. Here is the latest from the Rhule dismissal:

  • The Panthers made a quarterback splash in 2020, giving Teddy Bridgewater a three-year deal worth $63MM. Then-OC Joe Brady lobbied for Bridgewater, whom the young coach worked with during his time with the Saints, Person adds. Bridgewater was by far the best QB option during the Rhule period, with the Sam Darnold, Cam Newton 2.0 and Baker Mayfield (so far) stays producing bottom-end work.
  • Another option for Carolina would have been Justin Herbert, but Person notes the team did not want to give up the draft capital necessary to trade up for the Oregon prospect. The Panthers held the No. 7 overall pick in 2020; Herbert went sixth to the Chargers. Carolina, however, may have needed to trade up to No. 3 (Detroit) to secure Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa real estate. The Dolphins and Bolts likely were not open to moving down, and at that point, Dave Gettleman had never traded down during his time as the Giants or Panthers’ GM. The Panthers liked Herbert as a prospect, but they ended up taking Derrick Brown at 7. That certainly qualifies as a notable “what if?” for the organization.
  • After the Panthers passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones in 2021, they were linked to ex-Rhule Temple recruit Kenny Pickett at No. 6 this year. But Carolina did not view Pickett as worthy of such a high pick, Person adds. GM Scott Fitterer openly said before the draft the team would have the tackle prospects rated above all the QB talents in this year’s draft. Other teams tended to agree, with the Steelers nabbing Pickett at No. 20 — without trading up — and no other QBs coming off the board until Round 3.
  • Rhule’s decision to fire Brady after going on vacation during Carolina’s 2021 bye week did not sit well with some players, per Person. Rhule encouraged players to get away that week and kept his travel plans, but Brady and QBs coach Sean Ryan stayed in town to work with the recently re-signed Newton as he learned the Panthers’ new offense. Brady’s firing leaked on the Sunday during Carolina’s bye week, when Rhule returned to Charlotte. Brady is now the Bills’ quarterbacks coach.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo said the Panthers were one of the teams that showed interest in trading for him. “Things were advancing with a couple different teams,” Garoppolo said, via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch. “They were at the top of the list, I would say. One of the top couple, but I’m glad the way things worked out and I’m here.” The Panthers were among the teams skittish about Garoppolo’s salary, leading to his 49ers restructure, and his injury history was an issue with some Carolina staffers. Carolina acquired Mayfield in early July, but, adding to this franchise’s recent quarterback complications, Tepper’s desire to not overpay led to a delay that went against Rhule and Fitterer’s wishes.

Dolphins Plan To Start QB Skylar Thompson In Week 6

Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater remain in concussion protocol. The protocol changes brought on by Tagovailoa’s injury helped lead Bridgewater out of the Dolphins’ Week 5 game. As of now, it does not look like either will be back in Week 6.

Mike McDaniel said Wednesday rookie seventh-rounder Skylar Thompson is expected to be Miami’s starting quarterback against Minnesota in Week 6. Although McDaniel did not guarantee Tagovailoa would miss a second straight game, that is the expectation.

McDaniel added (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe, on Twitter) that Bridgewater clearing the protocol before Sunday would likely mean he is Thompson’s backup, flipping the roles from Week 5. Had Bridgewater’s concussion not occurred, the veteran would certainly be in position to start against the Vikings. But the former Minnesota first-round pick has now sustained three concussions over the past two years. The Dolphins exercising caution here is unsurprising, given recent events.

Tagovailoa, whose quick return from a Week 3 injury ignited a firestorm that led to the NFL and NFLPA agreeing on new protocols regarding players who show concussion-like symptoms, is expected to resume throwing Wednesday, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. While it does appear the 2020 first-round pick is on the right track, McDaniel said Monday no timetable exists for a return.

After going down with a concussion in a scary Week 4 scene, Tagovailoa has consulted with four independent specialists, per NFL.com. He increased his cardio and strength work over the weekend. It certainly looks like the Alabama product is on his way to returning — perhaps before the midseason point — but this injury has undeniably altered Miami’s season and changed the NFL.

McDaniel viewing Thompson on a full week of practices as a better option than a limited Bridgewater, as the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes (via Twitter), is interesting. Bridgewater, however, missed three full games and parts of two others due to concussions in 2021. The league’s previous protocol allowed Bridgewater to return from a Sunday concussion in time to play a Thursday-night game in Cleveland last year. The ninth-year passer’s latest setback came on his first snap against the Jets. Independent spotters’ observations led to Bridgewater’s removal, one that obviously changed the Dolphins’ outlook against their AFC East rivals.

A Kansas City, Mo., native who excelled at Kansas State, Thompson went off the board 247th in this year’s draft. His surprise debut produced a 19-for-33 completion rate and 166 passing yards. While Thompson threw a touchdown pass, he committed two turnovers that helped key a Jets onslaught. The Jets’ 40-17 win represented their biggest margin of victory over the Dolphins in 15 years. A second Thompson start would certainly play into the Vikings’ hands Sunday in Miami, giving the Dolphins a greater chance to fall from 3-0 to 3-3.

Dolphins QB Teddy Bridgewater Ruled Out Under Concussion Protocols

The Dolphins are being forced to go three-deep on their quarterback depth chart. Veteran backup Teddy Bridgewater exited Miami’s contest against the Jets with an elbow injury, and was also taken for evaluation of a head injury. The team announced that he will not return to the game. 

This development comes with starter Tua Tagovailoa sidelined after he suffered a concussion last Thursday. The team’s handling of his availability on that short-week game drew sharp criticism, and led to new concussion protocols being enacted in time for today’s slate of games. Under those new regulations, Bridgewater was taken to the locker room following the hit he sustained on the first play of the game.

The 29-year-old passed all concussion tests, but is still ineligible to return under the jointly-approved rules, and the observations made by the spotters present at the game (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). That gives Bridgewater the distinction of being the first player to be removed from a contest under the new regulations. He will remain in concussion protocol until receiving clearance from an independent neurologist, Pelissero tweets.

Injuries have been ever-present in Bridgewater’s career. They contributed to his Vikings tenure ending after just two years, along with his stints in New Orleans and Denver as a backup. The one-time Panthers starter was in line to occupy the No. 1 role for the foreseeable future given Tagovailoa’s injury, but now the team is left with a decided lack of experience at the position.

Seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson has taken over at quarterback, a situation made possible by the injuries, of course, but his performance in training camp and the preseason to land on the roster. The Kansas State product has completed 10 of 16 passes for 67 yards, along with an interception. After the Dolphins trailed 12-0, Thompson and the offense have lowered the deficit to five, as the Jets lead 19-14 at halftime.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Out For Week 5; Teddy Bridgewater To Start

Tua Tagovailoa has been at the center of concussion discussions around the league in recent days, and the Dolphins have made an unsurprising decision with the quarterback. Head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Monday that Tagovailoa will not play in Miami’s Week 5 game, meaning that veteran backup Teddy Bridgewater will get the start. 

“I can comfortably say he’ll be out for this game against the Jets, but anything beyond that, we’re just focused on making sure he’s at optimal health and then crossing that bridge,” McDaniel said, via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer (Twitter link). “So it’s a little early for definitive timelines.”

Tagovailoa was carted off the field during last Thursday’s game against the Bengals with a concussion. That, in turn, came four days after he suffered what he and the team termed a back injury which caused him to notably stumble. An investigation into the team’s handling of the situation remains ongoing, but it has already had notable consequences.

The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who was involved in the 24-year-old’s case has been terminated by the NFLPA. In addition, changes are being finalized to the league’s concussion protocols which are aimed at avoiding a repeat of his situation. In the meantime, attention is turning to Tagovailoa’s long-term health.

McDaniel reiterated his confidence in the team’s medical staff, adding that their decision on Tagovailoa’s return will depend on the new protocols, which could take effect as early as this week (Twitter links via Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network). With the timeline for his return uncertain, it remains to be seen if the Alabama alum will be placed on IR.

For at least this week, though, Bridgewater will prepare for his first start in Miami. The 29-year-old threw for 193 yards, one touchdown and one interception in relief of Tagovailoa on Thursday. The game against the Jets will mark his first start since his one-year stints as a stop-gap with the Panthers in 2020 and the Broncos in 2021. Known for his consistent, if underwhelming, levels of production, his ability to lead a much-improved Dolphins offense will be worth watching.

Backing up Bridgewater will be seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson, who impressed during training camp and the preseason. The Dolphins also added extra depth behind them, by re-signing former UDFA Reid Sinnett to the practice squad.

Panthers QB Transactions Since 2020

It’s been two years since the Panthers moved on from Cam Newton, and the organization’s QB room has seen plenty of change in that short amount of time. Besides the financial commitments to free agent additions like Teddy Bridgewater and Newton (for a second stint), the Panthers have also invested plenty of draft capital into the position. Over the past 15 months, the organization has effectively used a second-round pick, third-round pick, fourth-round pick, fifth-round pick, and sixth-round pick to construct their current depth chart of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Matt Corral.

Of course, the Panthers have rostered plenty of additional signal-callers since settling on their current trio. Over the past two years, the Panthers have started four different QBs, and 13 different quarterbacks have made their way through the organization (either via the active roster or practice squad). These 13 different QBs have accounted for 18 different transactions over the past 28 months.

We went back to the 2020 offseason and listed all of the Panthers QB transactions below:

March 10, 2020

Allen inked a one-year pact with the Panthers to avoid ERFA.

March 17, 2020

March 23, 2020

March 24, 2020

April 5, 2021

  • Acquired Sam Darnold from Jets for 2022 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2021 sixth-round pick

April 28, 2021

April 30, 2021

August 31, 2021

Grier was a 2019 third-round pick by the Panthers.

September 2, 2021

November 2, 2021

November 9, 2021

Barkley was signed off the Titans practice squad.

November 11, 2021

December 28, 2021

December 31, 2021

April 29, 2022

May 1, 2022

July 6, 2022

 

Dolphins To Sign QB Teddy Bridgewater

Tua Tagovailoa will have a new backup in 2022. Teddy Bridgewater is signing with the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal worth $6.5MM fully guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The deal could be worth up to $10MM with incentives.

This will be the former first-round pick’s sixth team, and it will mark a return to QB2 duty for the recent Broncos and Panthers starter. Bridgewater rebuilt his value as Drew Brees‘ backup in New Orleans and landed a big deal from the Panthers in 2020, but after Carolina and Denver moved on from him after one season apiece, the Louisville product will provide Miami with one of the NFL’s best backup options.

Formerly with the Vikings and Jets (offseason only) as well, Bridgewater is entering his age-30 season. The eight-year veteran held off Drew Lock to be Denver’s starter last season and had the team at 7-6 before suffering his second concussion of the year. The Broncos shut him down after that Week 15 setback, and the team lost to the Bengals after Bridgewater went down and proceeded to drop its final three games with Lock at the controls.

Tagovailoa backup duty carries significant responsibility, with Tua having entered the NFL after a major hip injury. He then suffered another injury early in the 2021 season, moving Jacoby Brissett into Miami’s lineup. Brissett will now seek work elsewhere.

Bridgewater finished with an 18-7 TD-INT ratio with the Broncos, doing so despite missing three full games and another half after suffering his initial 2021 concussion against the Ravens. While known as one of the league’s more conservative passers, Bridgewater checks off a key box for the Dolphins. He has made 63 starts in his career, having battled back from a brutal knee injury that ended his first run as a starter back in 2016.

QB Rumors: Trubisky, Winston, Taylor, Lock

The Giants’ new head coach, Brian Daboll, worked with free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky when they were both with the Bills last year (Daboll as offensive coordinator). Well, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Daboll has interest in luring Trubisky to join him in New York.

There’s been some interest in bringing Trubisky to Pittsburgh, as well, where a path to starting is much more clear. If Daboll’s familiarity with the sixth-year quarterback is able to attract him to the Giants, though, the head coach sees the potential for him to mirror the results of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. A quick refresher: Tannehill arrived in Nashville in 2019 in a trade with the Dolphins. Tannehill started the season in the role of back up quarterback to the incumbent starter Marcus Mariota. After a 2-4 start to the season, Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill, who went 7-3 for the rest of the year and led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.

Daboll holds hope that, while Daniel Jones may retain the starting job in New York, if the need presents itself, Trubisky could provide the same effect as Tannehill.

Some other notes concerning quarterbacks around the league:

  • Another option the Steelers could be looking into, Jameis Winston is looking like the most likely starting quarterback for the Saints in 2022, according to Graziano. With Teddy Bridgewater headed to free agency, a return to New Orleans could be possible, and Winston may see some opportunities in testing the free agent market, himself. But Winston is a locker room favorite that saw success on the Saints before tearing his ACL midseason last year.
  • Tyrod Taylor lost the starting job in Houston last year to rookie quarterback Davis Mills. With Mills expected to return to the starting position next year, the Texans do have interest in bringing Taylor back in the role of back up quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Taylor has chased starting jobs throughout his career and has seen some success at times. He may search for a new opportunity to start, but, if not, Taylor has shown professionalism several times in back up roles mentoring young quarterbacks.
  • After receiving Drew Lock in the Russell Wilson-trade with the Broncos, Seattle is considering the elements to Lock’s lack of success in Denver, according to Fowler. Some believe that the revolving door of offensive coordinators contributed to his struggles. Seattle is analyzing whether they believe in Pete Carroll‘s ability to develop Lock, who showed glimpses of promise in his early appearances as a Bronco, or whether they need to make moves for Deshaun Watson to win now.

Broncos Set To Be Aggressive In QB Pursuit

It’s no secret that the Broncos will be in the market for a new quarterback. In his media availability Tuesday, general manager George Paton confirmed that the team will be active in adding a signal caller (video link via Denver7’s Troy Renck). 

Paton made it clear how open the team is to exploring all options, something which could be made easier by the fact they have 11 picks in the upcoming draft, starting with the ninth selection. When specifically asked about the current QB situation the team is facing, he reiterated that change could soon be coming.

It’s the most important position in sports, so we’re always looking”, he said, noting the presence of 2019 second rounder Drew Lock on the roster. “But we’re always looking. And we’re [going to leave] no stone unturned to find that guy. We know we need better play out of the quarterback position, so we’re going to be aggressive”. 

Pending free agent Teddy Bridgewater was the team’s starter in 2021 (after winning a training camp competition with Lock), making him the latest in a long line of attempts to find a permanent successor to Peyton Manning. His play, while on par with what the team would’ve expected given his prior stops in the NFL, wasn’t enough to end the team’s playoff drought.

New head coach Nathaniel Hackett is among the reasons Denver has been listed as a potential trade destination for Aaron Rodgers, though Green Bay could still end up being where the reigning MVP plays next year. If not Rodgers, the team could look to acquire a veteran such as Jimmy Garoppolo, or turn to the upcoming draft. On that point, 9News’ Mike Klis tweeted that the team had formal interviews with this year’s QBs on Monday night at the Combine. Given their position in the draft order, Denver could have its pick of the class, which is headlined by the likes of Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell and Malik Willis.

As one of the biggest players in the QB market, the route Denver takes to find someone new under center will dictate much of the rest of the offseason, both in the Mile High City and beyond.