Teddy Bridgewater

Panthers Considered Trading Up For QB

Connected to Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford this offseason, the Panthers moved to Sam Darnold. They sent three draft choices (two in 2022) for the former Jets top-five draftee, who is on track to replace Teddy Bridgewater next season.

But the Panthers, whose quest to land a franchise quarterback was no secret this offseason, also considered making the kind of move the 49ers did. Carolina held internal discussions about vaulting up the draft board for a quarterback, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. However, the franchise that entered the 2020 offseason in rebuilding mode deemed the price to do so too extreme for its present situation.

[RELATED: Panthers Give Bridgewater Permission To Seek Trade]

It cost the 49ers their No. 12 pick, a 2021 third-rounder and 2022 and 2023 firsts to climb up nine spots to No. 3. The Panthers, who resumed Darnold talks with the Jets in Columbus while there for Justin Fields‘ first pro day, do not boast the roster talent the 49ers do at this point. Dealing away two future first-rounders for this draft’s second- or third-best quarterback, though the Jets are not believed to have received a firm offer for No. 2, would cost the Panthers chances at adding long-term starters. That said, Carolina did offer its No. 8 pick, Bridgewater and a fifth-rounder for Stafford in January.

With legal issues ensnaring Watson, his top would-be suitor will have Darnold under contract for two more seasons — on a rookie salary in 2021 and an fifth-year option price ($18.9MM) in 2022 — unless the sides agree to an extension. Darnold’s presence should not take the Panthers out of the running for Watson down the road, and Breer notes they should be expected to draft a quarterback at No. 8 — should one they like fall that far. Mac Jones and, to a lesser degree, Trey Lance have been the passers connected to the 49ers at 3. Lance and Fields seemingly have the best chance of falling to the eighth spot.

The Panthers did not want to part with their second- or third-round picks in this year’s draft for Darnold, Breer notes, so they and the Jets settled on a package that included a 2022 second-rounder as the centerpiece. The Panthers were offering their 2021 fifth-rounder, the same one they dangled as a Stafford throw-in, but swapped that out for a 2022 fourth to sweeten their offer to the Jets. The sixth-rounder Carolina gave up this year was a compensatory pick, the lowest of the team’s three 2021 sixths.

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PFR Poll: Which QB Will Be Traded Next?

The NFL’s quarterback carousel continued earlier this week when the Jets finally traded former third-overall pick Sam Darnold to the Panthers. The 23-year-old became the fifth quarterback to switch teams via trade this offseason:

While teams have already shifted focus from veteran acquisitions to the draft, that doesn’t mean we won’t see another QB trade. Sure, it takes two to tango, and a number of teams already have already solidified their quarterback situation (or they will in the upcoming draft). Still, teams like the Patriots, Broncos, Bears, Saints, and Washington could be in the market for a signal-caller depending on what happens with the draft.

So who could be available? We know one name is definitively on the block: Teddy Bridgewater. Following the Panthers’ acquisition of Darnold, the front ofice gave the 2020 starter permission to seek a trade. It seems like a trade is inevitable, with reports indicating that multiple teams have reached out to Carolina about the veteran. Many of these teams are apparently eyeing Bridgewater as a backup, which could complicate a trade if the veteran is hunting for a suitor who will let hm start. Further, interested teams would also like to rework Bridgewater’s contract, adding another hurdle to negotiations.

It was widely assumed that Jimmy Garoppolo would be on the trade block after the 49ers made a blockbuster trade for the No. 3 pick. However, the organization appears to be playing hard ball. After declaring that the veteran would be sticking around San Francisco for the 2021 season, the 49ers are reportedly seeking a first-rounder for Jimmy G. This could obviously just be leveraging via the media, and the 49ers will be hard pressed to find a team that will give up that type of draft capital and inherit Garoppolo’s hefty deal. Either way, the rumors will surely persist, especially if Garoppolo’s former team, the Patriots, roll into the regular season with Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham as their top quarterbacks.

What about Gardner Minshew? The former sixth-rounder took a step back from a team-record perspective in 2020, but he still proved to be a capable game manager, connecting on 66.1-percent of his passes and tossing 16 touchdowns vs. only five interceptions. The Jaguars will presumably take Trevor Lawrence will the first-overall pick in the upcoming draft, relegating Minshew to a backup role. Minshew has a low salary and plenty of upside, so Jacksonville won’t just give him away. However, if a team is willing to pony up for the mustached quarterback, the Jaguars will probably listen. For what it’s worth, we heard back in March that the Jaguars weren’t shopping Minshew “at this point” in time.

Those three quarterbacks appear to be the most realistic trade targets, but there are plenty of additional quarterbacks who have lingered in trade rumors. Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson were the biggest names thrown around this offseason, but it’s unlikely either player is dealt any time soon (Wilson because he’s a franchise quarterback and the Seahawks aren’t dumb, Watson because of the ongoing sexual misconduct allegations against him (and the Texans prior refusal to trade him despite demands)). Some less sexy names include Nick Foles, who could be displaced in Chicago after the Bears signed Andy Dalton. Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, and Drew Lock have also been tossed around, but it’s unlikely any of those players switch teams.

So that leads to our question: who will be the next quarterback to be traded? Let us know if we forgot anyone in the comments.

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Panthers Give Teddy Bridgewater Permission Seek Trade; Multiple Teams Interested

April 7: Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that “multiple teams” are interested in trading for Bridgewater (video link). Those clubs are looking at Bridgewater as a top-flight backup and mentor for a younger passer already on (or soon to be on) the roster. Bridgewater, of course, will need to rework his contract to facilitate a deal, and Rapoport — who expects a trade to happen — says the 28-year-old passer could reduce his 2021 pay to a fully-guaranteed $10MM.

April 6: After trading for Sam Darnold, the Panthers have granted Teddy Bridgewater permission to talk with other teams and potentially facilitate a trade (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The Panthers remain open to keeping the veteran, but they’ll allow him the chance to find a better opportunity elsewhere.

[RELATED: Panthers Trade For Jets’ Sam Darnold]

Bridgewater has two years to go on the three-year, $63MM deal he inked with Carolina just last year. The 28-year-old (29 in November) completed 69% of his passes last year with just 15 touchdown passes. The Panthers have chosen Darnold’s upside over another year with the one-time Vikings star, but he still profiles as a solid stopgap starter or a quality backup for other teams.

It would make little sense for the Panthers to keep Bridgewater — especially at his current price tag. He’s set to earn base salaries of $17MM and $20MM while Darnold is tied to the club through 2022 on his $18.9MM fifth-year option.

The Broncos are one club that could make sense for Bridgewater, especially given GM George Paton’s history with the QB. It’s also possible that the Saints could explore a reunion, adding to the Jameis WinstonTaysom Hill competition.

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Fallout From Sam Darnold Trade: Panthers, Jets, Rhule, Draft, Bridgewater

Although the Panthers and Jets had discussed a Sam Darnold trade for a bit, the talks centering around a trade that became official Monday heated up last week. Joe Douglas and Scott Fitterer discussed Darnold at Ohio State’s pro day on March 30, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Other teams contacted the Jets on Darnold ahead of free agency, but during the time Douglas and Co. methodically evaluating this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks, some would-be suitors moved on. By late last week, the Panthers were the last team left standing that would trade for Darnold, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Jets sought a package similar to the one the Cardinals received for fellow 2018 top-10 QB Josh Rosen, wanting a second-round pick and another mid-round pick or a player, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. (The Dolphins sent the 2019 No. 62 overall pick to the Cardinals for Rosen.) The Jets also proposed a pick-swap trade that would have sent Darnold and No. 23 to Carolina for No. 8, per Breer. The Panthers shut off that path but agreed to send a 2021 sixth, a 2022 second and a 2022 fourth for the former No. 3 overall pick. The Jets now have nine picks in Rounds 1 and 2 between this draft and next.

Here is more from the latest 2021 QB domino falling Monday:

  • Douglas pulled the trigger on a trade more than three weeks away from the draft and did so because Jets brass saw considerable downside in waiting for a better offer. The Jets did not want to lose out on the Panthers’ three-pick proposal, according to The Athletic’s Connor Hughes (Twitter links).
  • Perhaps paying customary lip service, Fitterer said (per Person, on Twitter) Monday the Darnold acquisition will not take the Panthers out of the quarterback mix at No. 8 overall. That pick, however, can now be used to help Darnold and accelerate the team’s rebuild. It could also be used as a trade chip. The quarterback-seeking Broncos hold pick No. 9, and at least one of the top five quarterbacks figures to remain on the board by then. A team keen on grabbing one of these QB prospects would seemingly be interested in jumping in front of Denver, should the Broncos stay at No. 9.
  • Teddy Bridgewater looks likely to be a one-and-done as a Panther. As a starter, anyway. He could be off to team No. 5 soon. The Panthers will try to collect a mid-round pick for their 2020 starter, Person notes (subscription required). But they have been trying to unload Bridgewater for weeks, Breer adds. Bridgewater is set to carry a $17MM cap number in 2021, and unless a Case Keenum– or Nick Foles-type situation emerges in which Bridgewater agrees to redo his deal to facilitate a trade, the Panthers will have a difficult time unloading that contract.
  • A virtual Darnold-Matt Rhule conversation played a role in Monday’s trade. When the Jets interviewed Rhule for their HC job in 2019, he spoke with Darnold. Rhule came away impressed with the quarterback, and Rapoport notes that meeting came into play when Rhule approved this trade (video link).

Panthers Expected To Trade Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater‘s time in Carolina may well limited to one season. The Panthers are expected to look to trade their 2020 starter, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).

While Bridgewater’s departure would understandably be expected after the Panthers’ Sam Darnold acquisition, Rapoport adds the team may look to rework the veteran incumbent’s contract. A trade, however, should be regarded as option 1 here. The Panthers gave Bridgewater a three-year, $63MM deal in 2020, bringing in the former Vikings starter to replace Cam Newton. But they made no secret of their desire to upgrade from Bridgewater this offseason.

New Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said the Darnold trade does not preclude the team from keeping Bridgewater, via David Newton of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The 49ers are using this stance with Jimmy Garoppolo, though San Francisco could conceivably keep both due to their next quarterback set to be a rookie. A Bridgewater-Darnold QB room sounds less feasible.

It will be interesting to see if the Panthers find a taker. Bridgewater is due base salaries of $17MM and $20MM over the next two seasons, respectively, and a few teams that entered the offseason with clear quarterback needs have moved in other directions. Bridgewater would make sense as a bridge starter (pun unintended) or a high-end backup.

The Broncos are, however, a team that has not addressed its QB situation. And their new GM both indicated the team would add to its Drew Lock-topped depth chart and has a history with Bridgewater. George Paton was in Minnesota’s front office when the team drafted Bridgewater in the 2014 first round. Bridgewater served as the Vikings’ starter from 2014-15 and was on course for a big extension before a severe knee injury sidetracked his career.

Bridgewater, 28, has settled into a role as a safe passer with a low ceiling. He completed 69% of his passes as a Panther last year, when he ranked 17th in QBR in his first season as a full-time starter since 2015, but threw just 15 touchdown passes. In his 2019 starts for the Saints, Bridgewater ranked last in Next Gen Stats’ average intended air yards metric. That said, the Louisville alum has started 49 games and would certainly help a team in need of a stopgap starter or a quality backup.

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QB Notes: Brady, Mahomes, Teddy, Falcons

Just over a year ago, Matt Rhule said he was “unbelievably excited” to coach Cam Newton. That never came to fruition, with the Panthers releasing their longtime starter a few weeks after those comments. This year, the Panthers’ desire to upgrade on Newton’s replacement — Teddy Bridgewater — has not exactly been a secret. David Tepper is said to be eager to make a strong offer for Deshaun Watson, and the Panthers offered their No. 8 overall pick and change for Matthew Stafford. Rhule, however, said he “can’t wait” to have Bridgewater back as QB1, via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required).

I think he’s controlling what he can control, and he’s having a great offseason, I’m sure,” Rhule said. “I can’t wait to get him back here. And I think he’s determined to play his best football next year. As far as where he stands with us, he’s our quarterback and nothing’s changed since the end of the offseason.”

In addition to the Panthers’ interest in veteran upgrades, they were present at Trey Lance‘s pro day Friday and are planning to be at the other first-round-caliber QBs’ showcases, per Person. Bridgewater’s $63MM deal runs through 2022, but his grip on Carolina’s starting job is far from firm.

Here is the latest from the quarterback position, moving to some rather famous passers:

  • Thanks largely to void-years maneuvering, the Buccaneers have Tom Brady set to collect a massive 2021 sum but only count $9.1MM against their cap. On his latest extension, Brady will take home $41.1MM this year, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The contract calls for a $24MM cap number in 2022, when Brady is only due to collect $8.9MM. The Bucs are stacking three void years to make this work, and Pelissero adds the team will save $19.3MM against this year’s cap by making this move (Twitter link). A whopping $24MM in void-years prorations will reside on Tampa Bay’s 2023-25 caps. If the Bucs do not extend Brady again by the time this contract expires in March 2023, they will be hit with the entire $24MM in dead-money sum on their 2023 payroll.
  • The Chiefs restructuring Patrick Mahomes‘ 10-year, $450MM contract saved them $17MM in cap space. Mahomes will now only count $7.43MM against Kansas City’s 2021 cap, per OverTheCap. He is only due $990K in 2021 base salary.
  • Matt Schaub‘s retirement and the Falcons waiving Kurt Benkert leaves Matt Ryan as the lone quarterback on Atlanta’s roster. While the Falcons are expected to add two more QBs this offseason, new HC Arthur Smith is not certain he wants to sign a veteran to be Ryan’s primary backup, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Schaub worked as Ryan’s backup for the past five years.

49ers Interested In Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater

The 49ers have called the Panthers to discuss a potential trade for Teddy Bridgewater, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. While the Panthers are looking to upgrade at quarterback, the Niners view the veteran as a solid insurance policy for Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo Available For Trade?]

Bridgewater was offered to the Lions just a few weeks ago, before the Lions shipped Matthew Stafford to the Rams. Meanwhile, Jimmy G is believed to be very much available, despite John Lynch‘s comments to the contrary. Trouble is, rival teams share the 49ers’ concerns about the young QB.

Garoppolo has missed 23 games since his September 2018 ACL tear. And, further complicating matters, he’s one of just eight players in the NFL with a no-trade clause. Garoppolo played all 16 games in San Francisco’s 2019 NFC Championship season, but played in only three in 2018. This past year, he suited up just six times.

Bridgewater inked a three-year, $60MM+ deal with the Panthers last year to replace Cam Newton under center. Unfortunately, the highly-respected veteran didn’t live up to the deal. Now, the Panthers are set to make a run at Deshaun Watson. Failing that, they may look to draft their next QB with the No. 7 overall pick.

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Latest On Panthers’ Quarterback Outlook

The Panthers were prepared to part with their current starting quarterback and their No. 8 overall pick for Matthew Stafford, and owner David Tepper appears prepared to approve a guns-blazing push for Deshaun Watson.

Carolina is believed to be in on a few quarterbacks in this complex offseason at the position, according to The Athletic (subscription required), but the team was not viewed as a serious Carson Wentz suitor. Taking it a step further, Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan tweets the Panthers were not interested in the former Eagles passer.

Teddy Bridgewater, offered to the Lions in the Panthers’ Stafford proposal, may not be long for his role as Carolina’s QB1. But the Panthers sat out the Wentz process, joining the Patriots and Broncos — who were also in the mix for Stafford, though the QB did not want to be dealt to New England — in that regard. This led to the Eagles shipping Wentz to the Colts. Philadelphia’s initial ask of a Stafford-type haul for Wentz induced multiple teams to bow out of the pursuit early.

As for the Panthers’ next move, it might not be a trade for Sam Darnold. They do not appear especially high on the Jets quarterback, according to The Athletic, and a growing sense has emerged that Bridgewater may be back at the controls for the 2021 Panthers. Armed with the draft’s No. 2 overall pick, the Jets are mulling a Darnold decision. Multiple teams have inquired on Darnold thus far. Their choice could impact the Panthers, who may be out of position — barring a trade-up maneuver — to snag one of the top three QBs in this draft.

Returning OC Joe Brady remains confident in Bridgewater, per The Athletic. Bridgewater signed a three-year, $63MM deal last March. However, Tepper is said to be hoping the team finds an upgrade — even if Watson cannot be pried from the Texans.

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More Fallout From Matthew Stafford Trade

It’s been a week since the Rams and Lions completed the Matthew Stafford trade, but the fallout from that deal is ongoing. Here’s the latest:

  • We previously heard that the Panthers offered their No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, plus a later pick, for Stafford. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), that later selection was a fifth-rounder, and Carolina also included Teddy Bridgewater in the proposal, so the Lions would at least have had a veteran signal-caller to take Stafford’s place while they groomed a younger QB. Plus, Detroit would have had the No. 7 and No. 8 overall picks in the draft, so it would have had a terrific chance to land a top collegiate passer and another elite prospect, or at least enough ammo to trade up for a top QB prospect.
  • What’s more, Bridgewater’s contract is much less onerous than that of Jared Goff, who ended up going to the Lions in the swap. But as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets, the Lions didn’t just take on Goff’s contract in order to squeeze more draft picks out of the Rams. They actually wanted Goff and believe he can regain the form he displayed in the 2017-18 seasons, which is a key factor in evaluating Detroit’s return.
  • When negotiations with the Rams commenced, though, the Lions were interested in another high-profile LA player. As Schefter reports in a separate tweet, Detroit first requested DT Aaron Donald, a request that the Rams summarily dismissed. Donald just landed his third Defensive Player of the Year award, and he obviously would have gone a long way towards the Lions’ much-needed defensive rebuild.
  • Stafford’s presence is attracting free agents to the Rams, as Schefter writes. Already, players have reached out to Stafford to express their interest in teaming up with him in Los Angeles, and Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones — who is eligible for free agency — is one such player. However, the Rams are projected to be well over the new salary cap of $180.5MM, so it’s unclear how active they will be in the free agent market.

Matt Rhule To Control Panthers’ Roster

The Panthers ended their expansive GM search by hiring longtime Seahawks executive Scott Fitterer. While this will be a key jump for the veteran personnel man, he will transition from one organization where the head coach has considerable power to another.

Matt Rhule confirmed he will have control of Carolina’s roster, though the second-year HC indicated Fitterer will obviously have tremendous responsibilities in this area as well.

I think in terms of on the contract, a lot of those things probably rest with me,” Rhule said, via Darin Gantt of Panthers.com. “But that’s not something I’m real interested in. I think it’s kind of a formality. Scott’s here to run the personnel. He’s here to build the roster. He’s here to establish the draft process. I think some things are written into the contract, but I think we’re going to work collaboratively and work together.”

Fitterer likened this situation as a Seahawks-esque partnership, where Pete Carroll and John Schneider work in tandem. Though Carroll maintains final say, which led to the Lions considering a Schneider pursuit earlier this year.

In the beginning, Pete was really in charge. But through no egos and the collaboration and the trust and the deep conversations they’ve had, Pete has opened up, and it’s really a partnership. It’s really a marriage between the two, and I’ve never seen an argument between them,” Fitterer said.

They can challenge each other; they can have discussions. But in the end, they’ve always been in lockstep, and I think that’s important for a GM and a coach to have. That’s what I think it’s going to be like here. Matt’s been great so far, and it’s only going to grow from here.”

Panthers owner David Tepper indicated he sought an experienced exec who could help Rhule while he acclimates to the NFL. Fitterer having worked with Carroll as he transitioned back to the pro game was a factor in the hire as well, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. The Panthers gave Rhule a seven-year, $63MM deal in 2020, so it certainly makes sense they will entrust him with their biggest decisions.

Fitterer stopped short of committing to Teddy Bridgewater as the Panthers’ 2021 starter, though the new GM was not specific regarding many players. Fitterer did say he sought a quarterback “who could win with the game on the line in the fourth quarter,” and as ESPN.com’s David Newton points out, Bridgewater was 0-8 in games in which he had a go-ahead or game-tying drive chance on the final possession.

The Panthers are set to make a run at Deshaun Watson, if the Texans make him available. They also have the No. 7 overall pick, putting them in position to draft Bridgewater’s eventual successor.

Trade-downs may well be coming to the Panthers soon. The Seahawks have consistently used their late-first-round draft perches to move down and accumulate capital. Fitterer said a line of demarcation between drafts’ top-tier and second-tier prospects usually falls around picks 16-18 and that there are not major talent disparities between players who fall between Nos. 25-40 on respective big boards (Twitter link via Person). This approach, which will not apply this year considering the Panthers pick seventh, will come not long after the franchise went five drafts (2013-17) without ever trading down under Dave Gettleman.

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