Panthers, Broncos could still take quarterbacks at eight, nine

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Mike Florio
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The Panthers traded for quarterback Sam Darnold, and they could still take a quarterback at No. 8. They have now traded a quarterback to the Broncos, who could still take one at No. 9.

By trading for Teddy Bridgewater the day before the draft, the Broncos acquire protection against not getting a quarterback at No. 9, if one of the quarterbacks they’d take isn’t there. Ditto for the Panthers, who previously bought protection against not getting a quarterback in round one by giving up a sixth-round pick this year and a fourth- and second-round pick next year for Sam Darnold.

It makes the decisions at No. 8 and No. 9 even more fascinating, if one or both of the quarterbacks who remain after the 49ers complete a three-for-three run to start the draft linger beyond No. 7. It also leaves the door open for the Broncos potentially hopscotching the Panthers in a deal with the Lions, if Justin Fields and/or Trey Lance remain through six picks.

With Bridgewater reducing his pay to $11.5 million and, in return, having his 2022 contract year wiped out, the Broncos could indeed keep him and draft a first-rounder for 2021 — especially since Denver is only paying $4.5 million of Bridgewater’s salary. The Panthers could do the same with Darnold, if they don’t pick up his 2022 option at $18.858 million.

It also remains possible that the Panthers will draft a quarterback at No. 8 and then try to flip Darnold to a new destination. It would make more sense, given that Darnold makes roughly $4.8 million this year, for Carolina to make him the starter while the rookie learns the ropes, if they end up drafting a quarterback with the eighth pick.

Regardless, neither team will be left holding the bag if they don’t get a first-round quarterback. The Panthers have Darnold, the Broncos have Bridgewater, and now both teams can let the board play out in front of them.

Panthers, Broncos could still take quarterbacks at eight, nine originally appeared on Pro Football Talk