Earlier this week, the Panthers picked up former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold via trade with the New York Jets. And with Carolina primed with the No. 8 overall pick, selecting another quarterback from this talented young crop certainly isn’t out of the question.
With Bridgewater’s role in Carolina clearly finished, CBS Sports’ NFL insider Jason LaCanfora believes the Denver Broncos are the favorite to land the former Pro Bowl QB. That being said, LaCanfora also feels the interdivisional New Orleans Saints could be interested in a deal.
“It should be all about asset maximization, and while most in the football world are connecting Bridgewater to Denver – and league sources said the Broncos have interest (and I suspect that is where the former first-round pick ends up) – there is no sense being shortsighted about this and limiting the potential market of suitors for someone Carolina paid $24M for in 2020, and who is still just 28 years old and who is set to make $18M this season, with $10M of that already fully guaranteed,” LaCanfora wrote. “It’s well established how much Sean Payton loves Bridgewater. He has already won vitally-important football games with Bridgewater during Drew Brees’ injuries. He was a huge part of that locker room. And the Saints have just most modest investments in Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston; neither is making real QB money. It would take some onions to do a deal like this, but Tepper seems to have gardens full on onions. If New Orleans makes the best offer, so be it. The Panthers are aware of the Saints’ interest, so let the chips fall where they may….”
As a result of this week’s Darnold trade, the Panthers front office and GM Scott Fritter gave Bridgewater permission to seek a trade with other teams.
Following the trade for Sam Darnold, the #Panthers spoke with QB Teddy Bridgewater and allowed him the opportunity to talk with teams to potentially facilitate a trade, sources say. Carolina is open to Bridgewater returning, but will give him a chance to have a say in his future.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 6, 2021
During a zoom conference with reporters on Monday evening, Fritter explained the ongoing situation with Bridgewater and how it effects their top-10 draft choice.
“I think there’s things we have to work through, obviously,” Fitterer said. “And I’ve already talked to Teddy’s agents. We’re going to find the right place, whether it’s here, wherever it may be. We’ll figure things out and contract-wise as well.
“This doesn’t take us out of anything in the draft. It doesn’t take us out of taking a quarterback. Doesn’t out of taking any position. What we wanted to do, going into this draft — through free agency, through this trade with Sam — is to just get rid of all the needs that we have and we just want to get to a place where our roster is in a good spot, where we can take the best-available player at No. 8.”
Starting 15 games for the Panthers in 2020, Bridgewater threw 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions through a 4-11 record. While it’s unlikely that he lands a starting role in 2021, he could certainly serve as a solid veteran backup for a team with a young QB.