Trading for Teddy Bridgewater seems a possible avenue for all teams at the moment, including the Bears.
The Panthers would like to unload him and either draft a quarterback or pick up enough picks to make a play for Deshaun Watson. From their spot at No. 8 in the draft, it's not an unrealistic goal to pursue Watson. At least it's far more realistic goal than the Bears making a play for Watson from No. 20.
In fact, the most difficult aspect of this for the Panthers is probably trading Bridgewater. They have only themselves to blame because it's the contract they gave him which makes it tough.
Acquiring Bridgewater would be something many Bears fans would enjoy, simply because it's a different face.
For the Bears, it would be a good deal like spinning their tires on ice or in mud.
They'd be going nowhere, so why waste their time with a trade of this type? It would be a trade for trade's sake and here's why.
Financially it would be difficult move to negotiate for the cash-strapped Bears, but then again anything will be this year.
The Panthers would love to simply cut Bridgewater and be done with him but the contract they signed him to carried a huge amount of guaranteed salary. Cutting him will severely hurt their cap situation as a result.
If the Panthers trade Bridgewater, they wouldn't need to take the $10 million hit for guaranteed salary on his contract in 2021. The new team absorbs it. Carolina would only be on the hook for the prorated bonus. The Bears would need to work some kind of contract restructuring to make it digestable, like they did with Nick Foles' deal. There's only so much you can do with a deal that has $10 million guaranteed in salary and it's going to be a tough pill to swallow for a team presumably trying to sign Allen Robinson.
Any team looking to add a veteran face to compete for a starting job at a very low rate would encounter problems because of the guaranteed salary.
To bring on someone who would be more costly, it needs to be worthwhile. There are real questions whether this would be an upgrade over simply re-signing Mitchell Trubisky, whose market value is projected by Spotrac.com at $8 million.
Bridgewater last year started regularly for the first time since 2015 and his team lost 11 of his 15 starts. His passer rating was worse (92.1) than Mitchell Trubisky's (93.5) and he threw 11 interceptions to only 15 touchdowns.
In Bridgewater's defense, many of the interceptions came later when the Panthers trailed and became desperate. Then again, this is when a quarterback needs to shine. He didn't.
The Bears benefited from one of those interceptions by DeAndre Houston-Carson to seal their win over the Panthers.
Bridgewater's season interception rate was actually better (2.2%) than Trubisky's (2.7%) and he had an excellent 7.6 yards per pass attempt despite his interception problems.
His biggest problem was simply not being able to get it into the end zone (3% TDs). Trubisky, by comparison, had TDs on a strong 5.4% of his passes.
It wasn't as if Bridgewater had a poor receiver group, either. In many ways, his receivers were better than Trubisky's with Robby Anderson (95 catches, 1,096 yards) and D.J. Moore (66 catches, 1,193 yards).
The Panthers had a defense unable to back its offense much of the time, but ultimately it was a defense ranked higher against the league than their offense.
The bottom line to all of it was Bridgewater couldn't elevate Carolina and they paid a big chunk of their salary cap pockets for a veteran free agent who could do this.
He could not get them into the end zone.
One Man's Trash, Another's Treasure
This is all a case of perception.
Trubisky's market value currently sits at about $8 million per year. This may seem a bit steep for a guy that was benched for Nick Foles, but it's honestly quite a bargain. Trubisky may catch a lot of heat for his ability to be a "franchise guy" but when you look at his overall numbers, they're not bad at all. He holds a 29-21 record as a starter, has a career completion percentage of 64%, and has thrown 64 touchdowns to just 37 interceptions (1 interception for every 42.6 passes attempted).
Trubisky is also more of a dual-threat quarterback than Teddy Bridgewater, which is more of the style that Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady want at the position. If the Panthers don't feel comfortable trading up in the draft to get their quarterback of the future, Trubisky would not be a bad placeholder. It would give him another opportunity to start and run the offense and for Carolina, it would be similar to Teddy's situation only this time, at a much cheaper price.
Trading for Bridgewater wouldn't be a tough sell for Bears fans, who at this point would be willing to go for about anything.
Bears fans who've seen Trubisky for years don't want to see more, but anyone who has followed Carolina closely would rather not see Bridgewater after just one season.
Putting Bridgewater in a camp battle with Foles if Bridgewater were cut wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for the Bears because it likely would cost them very little, but at this point a trade looks more likely and it would be far more expensive.
Bridgewater's production last year didn't even really exceed Trubisky's. Trubisky also knows the offense and they'd need to go through another educational offseason with Bridgewater.
Ultimately, the goal for any roster action is to make the team better and there is virtually no way trading for Bridgewater represents a real upgrade over simply having Trubisky on the field again.