Panthers trade QB Teddy Bridgewater to Broncos for 6th-round pick

Teddy Bridgewater is headed to his third team in three seasons.

The Carolina Panthers announced Wednesday that they traded Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round draft pick.

Bridgewater, Carolina's starting QB in 2020, was expendable after the Panthers traded a second-round pick to the New York Jets for Sam Darnold earlier this offseason. The Panthers will receive pick No. 191 from the Broncos.

Per ESPN, the Panthers will pay $7 million of Bridgewater's salary in 2021. Bridgewater's salary cap number in 2021 is approximately $22 million after the QB signed a three-year deal with the Panthers ahead of the 2020 season. Bridgewater's cap hit was just south of $14 million in 2020.

Bridgewater signed with the Panthers after he spent 2019 as Drew Brees' backup in New Orleans. The 2020 season was Bridgewater’s first as a starter since 2015, though he started five games in Brees’ absence the year before.

Bridgewater started all 16 games for Minnesota in 2015 but suffered a horrific knee injury the following preseason.

Denver still in the QB market?

Bridgewater's presence won't prevent the Panthers from finding another QB. Will it stop the Broncos from drafting a QB during the first round of the 2021 NFL draft?

The Broncos have been widely considered to be in the market for a first-round QB on Thursday night. With Bridgewater and 2019 second-round draft pick Drew Lock now in the Broncos' QBs room, Denver could use the No. 9 pick on an offensive lineman or defensive player.

(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)
(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

Steady QB play has held the Broncos back over the last three seasons. The team hasn't gotten above average QB play since 2014 — Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler completed 61% of their passes and threw 19 touchdowns to 23 interceptions in the team's Super Bowl-winning 2015 campaign — and the results have reflected that. The Chiefs have won the AFC West every year since 2016 and the Broncos have finished in the bottom half of the division in four of the past five seasons.

If Denver drafts a QB at No. 9, Lock could find himself on the way out. It seems improbable that the Broncos would have Bridgewater, Lock and a first-round QB on the roster entering 2021. Lock started 13 games in 2020 and was 254-of-443 passing for 2,933 yards and 16 TDs with 15 INTs. He averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt and his interception percentage of 3.4% ranked 34th out of 35 QBs that threw at least 250 passes.

Meanwhile, the Panthers may now find themselves looking to draft a QB on Thursday or Friday. Darnold has just two seasons left on his rookie deal and didn't produce in his tenure with the Jets. Do the Panthers trust him enough to make him the undisputed starter heading into 2021, or will they draft a rookie to step in if necessary? We'll find out soon enough.

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