Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater has cleared the concussion protocol, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). With that, the veteran passer will start Denver’s Week 5 matchup against the Steelers this afternoon.
Bridgewater, acquired in an April trade with the Panthers, bested Broncos’ 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock in this summer’s quarterback competition, and he led Denver to a 3-0 start to the 2021 campaign. The three teams he defeated — the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets — boasted a combined 0-9 record going into last week, so the early-season success for Bridgewater and the Broncos came with something of an asterisk, but the QB and his team did exactly what they needed to do against weaker competition.
Their winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Ravens last week, a game that Bridgewater was forced to leave early due to a concussion. Prior to that, he completed seven of 16 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Although Bridgewater did not do much in his time on the field, Lock’s relief performance did nothing to make head coach Vic Fangio think twice about turning the reins back over to his QB1 as soon as he cleared protocol. Lock appeared indecisive and could not generate any momentum, finishing 12 of 21 for 113 yards and an interception. Denver ultimately lost by a 23-7 score.
It is still unclear whether Bridgewater will have one of his top receiving weapons, wide receiver Courtland Sutton, joining him on the field in Pittsburgh today. Sutton, who rolled his ankle at practice on Thursday, will be a game-time decision, per Schefter.
Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered concussion protocol after several big hits on Sunday. The veteran’s availability is now in question for Week 5, pending his recovery.
The Broncos’ undefeated start was brought to a halt by the Ravens on Sunday, who topped them 23-7. Bridgewater was knocked out early on, after completing seven of his 16 throws for 65 yards and a short-range touchdown. He was relieved by Drew Lock, who went 12-of-21 passes for 113 yards with one interception.
“Well, I think his performance was, you know, just like the rest of the offense — we just weren’t good enough today after the one touchdown drive,” head coach Vic Fangio said of Lock (via NFL.com). “We really could get nothing going. We weren’t getting it going with Teddy either after the touchdown drive. So, I think it’s more of a collective thing offensively than a quarterback thing.”
At minimum, Bridgewater will be withheld from practice for the next few days. It’s a frustrating setback for the 28-year-old (29 in November), who was off to a stellar start in 2021. Ditto for the Broncos, who have been eager to stabilize their QB situation. The Broncos have started ten players under center since Peyton Manning‘s post-2015 retirement. They’ve tried all possible avenues: free agency (Case Keenum, the second Brock Osweiler acquisition), the trade market (Joe Flacco, Bridgewater) and the draft (Lock, Paxton Lynch). After all of that, they’ve done no better than 9-7 since Manning left.
The 3-1 Broncos – potentially led by Lock — will face the Steelers in Week 5.
Head coach Vic Fangio has named Teddy Bridgewater as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. That leaves incumbent starter Drew Lock as the team’s QB2, raising long-term questions about his future in Denver.
The Broncos have started ten players at quarterback since Peyton Manning‘s March 2016 retirement. They’ve tried all possible avenues: free agency (Case Keenum, the second Brock Osweiler acquisition), the trade market (Joe Flacco, Bridgewater) and the draft (Lock, Paxton Lynch). After all of that, they’ve done no better than 9-7 since Manning left.
Now they’ll hand things over to Bridgewater. His three-year, $63MM deal didn’t pan out for the Panthers, but the Broncos have him at a much more reasonable rate. Bridgewater’s 2021 cap hit will be just $4.4MM. After that, he’ll be a free agent.
Bridgewater finished 17th in QBR last season while Lock ranked 29th. The 2019 second-rounder tied for the NFL lead in INTs (15) despite missing three games. In his defense, he was thrust into an unusual spot in 2020 — learning a brand new offense in a virtual offseason. He was also without top receiver Courtland Suttonfor most of the year.
Bridgewater, meanwhile, will aim for better results. He’s got a lot working in his favor, including familiarity with Pat Shurmur‘s offense.
One of the key points in this year’s draft came at No. 9, when the Broncos — who did extensive work on quarterbacks coming in — passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to selectPatrick Surtain II. Denver passing on potential long-term starters transpired shortly after new Denver GM George Paton acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the Panthers.
With the Broncos choosing Surtain, Bridgewater and Drew Lock reside as their quarterbacks. They split reps down the middle this offseason and will continue this competition during training camp, when chapter six in the franchise’s post-Super Bowl 50 quarterback saga commences in earnest.
The Broncos have started an NFL-most 10 players at quarterback — counting Phillip Lindsay‘s wildcat snap in the COVID-19-created Kendall Hinton game last season — since Peyton Manning‘s March 2016 retirement. Denver has tried free agency (Case Keenum, the second Brock Osweiler acquisition), the trade market (Joe Flacco, Bridgewater) and the draft (Lock, Paxton Lynch) to fill this spot. The Broncos’ most successful post-Manning season — 2016, when the team went 9-7 — came with 2015 seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian at the controls.
Now on his fifth team, Bridgewater is still just 28 and has a history with Paton. The Vikings drafted the Louisville alum in the 2014 first round, when Paton was working as GM Rick Spielman‘s top lieutenant. The former Jets (briefly), Saints and Panthers passer has developed a reputation as a risk-averse passer, and Carolina was eager to jettison him after authorizing a three-year, $63MM deal in 2020. The trade agreement knocked Bridgewater’s 2021 cap hit down to just $4.4MM and made him a 2022 free agent. But Bridgewater makes sense for a team with high-end defensive capabilities, which a healthy Broncos iteration possesses.
Bridgewater finished 17th in QBR last season; Lock ranked 29th. The 2019 second-round pick was often erratic during his second NFL season, tying for the NFL INT lead (15) despite missing three games. Lock, however, was thrust into an unusual spot in 2020 — learning a new offense in a virtual offseason — and lacked top receiver Courtland Suttonfor most of the season. But Lock’s grace period is over, with longtime GM John Elway ceding the reins to Paton.
The elephant in this room: will the Broncos’ interest inAaron Rodgers be relevant soon? The Broncos have lapped the field in Rodgers rumors, with the Raiders — another team Rodgers is open to joining — comfortable withDerek Carr for the time being. Depending on which skill-position players would be left in Denver after a trade, Rodgers would be equipped with a host of young weapons and a defense positioned to be one of the league’s best.
Even as some around the league wonder if the Packers are bracing for the reigning MVP’s exit, they are holding firm and possess leverage. Despite a return that could feature two or three first-round picks and one or more established young starters, Green Bay is understandably clinging to hopes this situation can be salvaged. The Bengals traded disgruntled QB Carson Palmer in October 2011, after the incumbent had staged a retirement in an effort to leave Cincinnati, and Palmer made nine starts for the Raiders that year. The Broncos likely would be open to a Rodgers in-season arrival, but ideally for them, the Packers begin trade discussions before the season.
Will the Broncos end up swinging a trade this year, or will 2022 be the window for such a transaction? Can Bridgewater or Lock seize the job and halt Rodgers and Watson rumors for good? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.
The Broncos may have made a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean the veteran is going to run away with the starting gig. Rather, he’ll have to compete with 2020 starter Drew Lock, with head coach Vic Fangio recently saying that the two signal-callers will split reps during OTAs and training camp.
While Bridgewater has the experience on his side, he’s not taking anything for granted as he competes with Lock for the top spot on the depth chart. Rather, the 28-year-old said he’s always had the mindset of having to compete for his job.
“Every day I wake up, I consider myself competing for my job,” Bridgewater told the team’s website. “I think that’s the mindset of everyone who plays this game. Whether I was penciled in as being the starter or if I had to compete, my mindset is this is a competition. … In this league, so much happens.
“Of course, that’s my mindset [to start], but at the same time, I have to take it one day at a time and continue to be the best teammate I can be today and let tomorrow take care of itself.”
Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but it’s been a mixed bag when he’s under center. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating. Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. Bridgewater ultimately finished the campaign having completed 69.1-percent of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
For what it’s worth, Bridgewater doesn’t have much catching up to do when it comes to scheme, as the quarterback worked with Broncos offensive coordinator PatShurmur when the two were in Minnesota.
“It’s helped a lot,” Bridgewater said. “There is some carryover from my days in Minnesota, but at the same time, a lot has changed. I’ve been in a couple of different systems. I see players that I’m familiar with and it’s been a smooth transition with the install.”
The first-round of the 2014 NFL Draft took place seven years ago today. While there was plenty of hype heading into the first day of the draft, surely no one expected the first round to produce so many accomplished players. Among the 32 individuals who heard their name called on May 8, 2014, 17 of those players eventually earned Pro Bowl nods. That’s not shabby.
From a transactions standpoint, there were five trades completed on that Thursday evening, with the Browns and Vikings starring in a handful of the deals. While there were whispers that the first-overall pick could get traded from Houston, the Texans ultimately kept the selection and drafted Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1.
The first trade of the evening was between the Browns and Bills. Cleveland wanted to move back to select a cornerback, so they sent No. 4 to Buffalo for No. 9, a future first, and a future fourth. The Bills ended up selecting wideout Sammy Watkins. As the first round continued to progress, the Browns apparently didn’t feel comfortable staying at No. 9. So, they packaged that selection and a future fifth-round pick to the Vikings for the No. 8 pick, and they proceeded to select cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Vikings selected linebacker Anthony Barr with their new selection.
The Saints later got into the action, acquiring the No. 20 pick from the Cardinals to select receiver Brandin Cooks. New Orleans sent Arizona No. 27 and No. 91, with the Cards selecting safety Deone Bucannon with that first-round selection.
The Browns made another trade later in the night, this time in pursuit of a quarterback. Cleveland traded No. 26 and No. 83 to Philly in exchange for No.22…and the Browns ultimately selected quarterback Johnny Manziel. Really, the writing was on the wall with that selection; the team had previously drafted two other QB busts (Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn) at that same spot in the draft.
The last trade of the evening once again featured the Vikings. Minnesota acquired the No. 32 pick from the Seahawks for picks No. 40 and No. 108. The Vikings used their new selection on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
It was surely an entertaining evening, with Cleveland serving as the star of the show. However, fast forward to today, and Browns fans are surely still shaking their head at how everything unfolded.
Head coach Vic Fangio confirmed as much in an interview with Mike Klis of 9News.com. Although Fangio conceded he wasn’t sure which of Lock or Bridgewater would get the first set of reps in OTAs or training camp, he said, “it will be something that at the end of the day, maybe not at the end of every day, but over the course of OTAs and training camp, it’ll be 50-50.”
Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but he is already being mentioned as one of a number of failed QBs that led to John Elway‘s loss of decision-making power. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating.
Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. He offers the experience and accuracy that Lock does not have at this point, though Lock’s ceiling is higher.
Fangio, predictably, had good things to say about both passers. “I think Drew’s had a helluva offseason up to this point, albeit we haven’t been on the field,” he said. “I think Drew is going to look good here in the offseason when we do hit the field. And I’ve been an admirer of Teddy Bridgewater for many years. … He’s a good football player. A good quarterback. He’s got deceptive scramble ability. He’s got really good pocket feel. He’s got great leadership abilities. I think he’s an accurate passer and processes very well so we’re happy.”
Regardless of which player wins the job, the Broncos currently have the least desirable QB situation in the AFC West. But new GM George Paton passed on the opportunity to draft a quarterback like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, so he obviously feels good enough about where things stand right now. However, the rest of Denver’s roster looks pretty strong, and the team could be one elite QB away from making serious noise in the AFC. As such, a Rodgers pursuit could still be in the cards.
In order to facilitate his trade to the Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater agreed to restructure his contract (Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News). Now, Bridgewater has just one year remaining on his deal, rather than two.
By truncating the three-year, $63MM deal he signed last year, Bridgewater has given the Broncos extra flexibility beyond 2021. Meanwhile, the Broncos also got the Panthers to pick up $7MM of his $10MM guarantee. Between the remaining $3MM and Bridgewater’s forthcoming $1.5MM salary, they’ll be paying him just $4.5MM — a reasonable price for a backup quarterback who may wind up supplanting Drew Lock as the starter. As Klis notes, it’s a fraction of what Andy Dalton got ($10.5MM) from the Bears earlier this year.
Bridgewater struggled in his first year with the Panthers, but he was one of the league’s hottest free agents just ~14 months ago. In 2019, Bridgewater went 5-0 as the Saints’ starter, filling in for Brees while he was sidelined. And, of course, he was one of the NFL’s brightest young stars before his devastating injury in Minnesota.
The Louisville alum started 28 games for the Vikings from 2014-15, averaging 3,075 yards, 14 touchdowns, and ten interceptions per season. Among the 30 QBs who attempted at least 500 passes in those two seasons, Bridgewater ranked 22nd in passer rating, 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, and 29th in touchdown percentage.
Teddy Bridgewater is going to the Broncos. The Panthers have agreed to send the quarterback to Denver in exchange for a sixth-round pick, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
As a part of the deal, the Panthers will pay out $7MM of Bridgewater’s salary for the coming year. The Broncos will only take on a fraction of his pay, at $3MM. With the Panthers eating the lion’s share of what’s owed to Bridgewater, the Broncos remain open to quarterbacks in the first-round of Thursday’s draft, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears.
Bridgwater represents new competition for Drew Lock, who was already facing the possibility of competing with rookie QB selected with the No. 9 pick. Last year, Lock’s QBR put him near the bottom of the league. In turn, the Broncos tried to swing a deal for Matthew Stafford, but the Rams beat him to the punch. The Broncos didn’t see Carson Wentz or Sam Darnold as worthwhile upgrades, but Lock’s seat has stayed hot throughout the offseason.
Broncos GM George Paton had an up close look at Bridgewater during his salad days with the Vikings. Paton was with the team when they selected the Louisville product in the first round of the 2014 draft. That familiarity likely put Bridgewater ahead of Gardner Minshew, Jimmy Garoppolo, and other available passers on their wish list.
Bridgewater has two seasons left on the three-year, $63MM deal he inked with Carolina. The 28-year-old (29 in November) completed 69% of his passes in 2020 with just 15 touchdown throws. While the Panthers chose Darnold’s upside over another year with the veteran, he still profiles as a solid alternative to Lock.
The Panthers now own the No. 191 overall pick, but the real upside comes in the form of financial relief. Now, GM Scott Fitterer has a few more dollars to work with, plus a substantially lighter cap for 2022. Meanwhile, Darnold may have a little more confidence moving forward as he looks to reboot his career in the NFC South.
The only two starting quarterbacks to retire after winning Super Bowls played for the same franchise. While the Broncos made the playoffs multiple times in the five years following John Elway‘s retirement — with the likes of Brian Griese and Jake Plummer operating as the team’s primary starters — they have hovered off the contention radar for most of their post-Peyton Manning stretch. No team has started more quarterbacks than Denver’s 10 (counting the Kendall Hinton game) since 2016.
This stretch has placed the Broncos back on the quarterback radar. Although their last foray into the first-round market careened off course quickly (Paxton Lynch in 2016), the Broncos’ three subsequent QB investments — Case Keenum, Joe Flacco and Drew Lock — largely struggled. Will this run of futility at the NFL’s premier position force the Broncos to acquire one of this year’s top QB prospects?
New GM George Paton has said multiple times this offseason the Broncos will acquire a quarterback to push Lock, but it is not certain that will be a rookie. Denver brass, however, did extensive work on this year’s top passer crop. Paton was at Justin Fields and Trey Lance‘s initial pro days, while offensive coordinator PatShurmur trekked to the second workouts held by the Ohio State and North Dakota State QBs. Other teams have viewed Denver as a stealth quarterback seeker as well.
Only two of the draft’s top five passing prospects will be available to teams picking after No. 3, with the 49ers moving up for a quarterback. Considering the needs of some teams picking outside the top 10 — the Patriots, Washington and Bears have been linked to trade-up maneuvers — and the not-impossible prospect of the Lions (No. 7) or Panthers (No. 8) jumping into the fray, it is possible the Broncos will be left out if they stand pat at No. 9. They are believed to have inquired about trading up, though Paton denied this. The Falcons (No. 4), Dolphins (No. 6), Lions and Panthers are all open to trades, creating opportunities for the Broncos and teams eager to trade in front of them.
Given the Broncos’ above-average defense and bevy of skill-position weapons, going into another season with Lock (29th in 2020 QBR) could lower the team’s ceiling — in a hot-seat year for Vic Fangio. But Fangio’s status could also push the team to trade for a veteran instead of hoping this year’s fourth- or fifth-best QB prospect can make an impact right away. Although the Broncos sat out the free agent market and passed on trades for Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold — after falling short for Matthew Stafford — veteran arms remain available.
Lock has not been blessed with great circumstances, despite Denver drafting Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first and second rounds last year. The pandemic nixed the young passer’s first offseason with Shurmur, and No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton went down in Week 2 last year. But the 2022 quarterback class, as of now, has received far less hype than the past two drafts’ QB crops generated. The Broncos not making a move for Fields, Lance or Mac Jones next week could limit their options going forward.
How do you think the Broncos will play this? Will they prioritize acquiring another quarterback by trading up or hope one falls to No. 9? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.