Unpacking Panthers GM Scott Fitterer’s comments on Teddy Bridgewater trade reports

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Tim Weaver
·6 min read
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Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer spoke with the media on Wednesday for the first time since his introductory press conference when he was hired two months ago. Fitterer touched on several trending subjects, including some of his recent personnel moves, the 2021 salary cap situation and free agency. He also addressed the giant elephant in the room.

This entire offseason has been spent speculating on the Panthers’ future at quarterback. Specifically, they have been reported to be involved in almost every veteran QB trade discussion and all five of this draft class’ top QB prospects have been mocked to them at one point or another.

Needless to say, there’s not many people left who believe Teddy Bridgewater will be starting for Carolina next season. Nevertheless, if the Panthers had to play a game tomorrow Bridgewater would still be the best option. Fitterer agrees (for now). Let’s unpack what the GM said about QB1.

‘Hes our quarterback’

Some of Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule’s Wednesday comments were quite compelling. This wasn’t one of them. In the business we refer to “he’s our quarterback” as coach-speak, which is another way of saying something without giving away any real information or revealing anything. It was a little telling that Bridgewater hadn’t even gotten the “he’s our QB” this entire offseason up until now, meaningless though the phrase may be.

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Yes, technically Teddy Bridgewater is the Panthers’ quarterback. That only means he plays the position and is their No. 1 QB on the depth chart. That’s not saying much. It’s certainly not a vote of confidence in his abilities or a sign that he’ll be the starter when next season begins.

‘A lot of misinformation’

While Bridgewater is currently on the roster he also may be on the trade block. Carolina tried to package him in a deal to Detroit and other teams have reportedly been interested, including the 49ers.

Fitterer didn’t deny that the Panthers wanted to trade Bridgewater to the Lions, but he did say there was a lot of misinformation out there regarding the recent trade reports going around.

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Of course, Fitterer declined to offer specifics and Bill Voth’s tweet is somehow even less helpful. So, we don’t know what report or rumor Fitterer is referring to, here.

Our best wild guess is it might be about a story from Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated recently that claimed the Panthers were ready to move on from Bridgewater over “physical limitations.” While it’s probably true given what we saw last season, it’s not the kind of quote that teams engaged in trade discussions want leaked to the media for obvious reasons. There’s no way to know for sure but it’s the most stark comment we’ved heard regarding Teddy this offseason and the one they’d most likely object to whether true or not.

In any case, this claim isn’t too important. Teams engage in as much misinformation as anyone. It’s part of the business, especially when they’re moving franchise quarterbacks.

‘An honest conversation’

The most-effective medicine for misinformation is the truth. While some people get rich by twisting them on TV for a living, facts can only be misrepresented so much before people catch up. This is a case where the reporting on the ground cuts right to the heart of the matter.

Only the Panthers’ brass really knows how much confidence they have in Bridgewater and how much value he offers, both on the field and in any potential trade. We do know for a fact they tried to deal him, though.

Fitterer admitted as much yesterday. He also says he had an “honest” conversation with Bridgewater about including him in the potential Matt Stafford trade that fell through before he was dealt to the Rams.

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So, Fitterer and Rhule can call Bridgewater a great guy or a true pro or a real class act or our quarterback all they want – the fact is they tried to get rid of him in order to get a better one. Odds are they’re still trying, even if those talks have cooled off of late.

‘I look forward to him coming back.’

Then again, there’s a very realistic chance that the Panthers won’t be able to move Bridgewater thanks to the size of his contract. The Lions felt the Rams made a better offer and as of yet the Niners haven’t pulled the trigger on a deal for Teddy.

Fans shouldn’t be shocked if Bridgewater remains in a Carolina uniform next season, even if he’s not the starter. Fitterer says he looks forward to him coming back.

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Clearly, the Panthers at least respect Bridgewater as a person and believe he’s a good influence for the locker room. While it would be better if they could find a trade partner to get his cap number off the books, having a solid backup quarterback like Teddy certainly isn’t the end of the world.

Based on this comment, it’s possible that Fitterer and Rhule believe they won’t get a big enough return in a trade and have made their peace with Bridgewater sticking around on the roster in 2021.

We still fully expect the Panthers to make a trade for a QB this offseason, whether it’s for a veteran like Deshaun Watson or a move up in the draft for one of the top four prospects. As long as they don’t insist on including Bridgewater in any deal (which could scuttle the whole thing), they should be able to pull it off if team owner David Tepper really is as determined as recent reporting suggests.

Given the dead money involved, cutting Bridgewater wouldn’t make a lot of sense, even if it would free up some more salary cap room. Fans should probably accept that Bridgewater won’t be playing for another team until next year.

Bottom line, finding a trade partner for Bridgewater shouldn’t even be close to this team’s No. 1 priority right now. Teddy is only “our guy” until they can find someone better. That should remain this organization’s focus.

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