Since Denver Broncos' GM George Paton was introduced in the Mile High City, he’s been emphatic about adding competition to the quarterback room. Multiple waves of free agency came and went, leaving many to wonder when Paton would add a QB and how he'd do it.
On Wednesday, the Broncos acquired QB Teddy Bridgewater via trade with the Carolina Panthers. In exchange for the 28-year-old veteran, the Panthers receive the 191st overall pick (sixth round) and will pay a portion of Bridgewater’s 2021 compensation.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Panthers are “paying Bridgewater $7 million, Broncos paying him $3 million.”
Schefter also pointed out that the acquisition of Bridgewater does not take Denver out of the QB market in Thursday night's NFL draft.
How should Broncos Country react to the bombshell news of a new signal-caller in Orange and Blue and what does it really mean for the team's outlook? Well, these articles are called the Gut Reaction traditionally at Mile High Huddle for a reason. Time to react.
Nobody should be surprised the Broncos landed Bridgewater. Here at MHH, we've been connecting the dots together for months. Bridgewater is a familiar fail-safe option for Paton.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound QB was originally drafted in the first round (No. 32) in 2014 by the Minnesota Vikings, where Paton previously had deep roots as assistant GM and V.P. of player personnel. In fact, the Vikings traded their second and fourth-round picks to the Seattle Seahawks to draft Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round.
Bridgewater arrives in Denver having played for four previous franchises including a two-year stint with the New Orleans Saints, preceded by a brief spell with the New York Jets. He’s played in 59 NFL games and has thrown for 11,385 yards and 53 touchdowns with 36 interceptions.
Obviously, that’s a lot of career experience and should be welcomed in a QB-starved town, right?
Maybe to some, but to others, the acquisition of Bridgewater is lukewarm, to say the least. Sure, he’ll challenge the incumbent Drew Lock, and is in all likelihood a very safe backup. But in 2020, the Broncos beat the Panthers 32-27 where Bridgewater completed 30-of-40 attempts for 283 yards, and a rushing touchdown. Carolina finished 5-11.
So Why Now?
The answer is simple and very revealing. There was a competitive market for suitors who expressed interest in acquiring Bridgewater. I’ve submitted multiple inquisitions to various league sources and have received the impression that Denver brass felt they needed to pull the trigger on this trade now as a result of the increased demand.
The optics suggest that if the trade didn’t happen on the eve of the draft, the Broncos could be pigeonholed with Lock and possibly a rookie QB on draft night. While the Broncos will publicly insist that by trading for Bridgewater, they could still draft a first-round QB, I don’t buy it.
In my opinion, Paton hasn’t fallen in love with any of this classes' QB prospects within reach at pick No. 9. and is more than comfortable giving Lock and head coach Vic Fangio one more year. If the wheels completely fall off, then Bridgewater is an adequate and intelligent signal-caller that can step in and manage the workload to remain competitive.
In short, my gut reaction to the acquisition of Bridgewater is one of non-surprise because it supports the theory that this team is more than a QB away from postseason football. Meaning, the Broncos are likely to take the first defender in the draft on Thursday night, whether that ends up Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons or Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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