The Denver Broncos' pre-draft trade for veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been lost in the shuffled of all the Aaron Rodgers trade rumors. GM George Paton opting to infuse some veteran competition into the QB room might ultimately prove to be a more pivotal move, however, especially if the Rodgers hype comes to nothing.
Bridgewater represents a low-risk move for the Broncos. It was only a sixth-round draft pick relinquished in the trade to Carolina and the Panthers remain on the hook for $7 million of Bridgewater's 2021 salary.
Paton was heavily involved in scouting Bridgewater coming out of Louisville in 2014 and his personal ties and belief in the QB's character have been tested by that major injury setback that occurred in Minnesota back in 2016. It was a grievous knee injury that threatened Bridgewater's life and career.
“I remember the day he got hurt like it was yesterday,” Paton last week. “It shook the whole building to the core. It was just hard for the building to get over it and start the season. Just to see him come back and rehab when they told him he probably wasn’t going to play again. It was a longshot.”
Paton's faith in Bridgewater could mean he'll be given a legitimate opportunity to unseat the incumbent Drew Lock as the starting QB. Head coach Vic Fangio revealed last week that the initial plan for training camp will be to split reps at QB equally and let the chips fall.
“We’ll work that out,” Fangio told Mike Klis of 9NEWS. “We haven’t sat down and figured that out. But it will be something that at the end of the day, maybe not at the end of every day, but over the course of OTAs and training camp, it’ll be 50/50.”
Another open competition. It should come as no surprise to hear Paton continue to talk up the professionalism and selflessness that allowed Bridgewater to make a remarkable comeback. And now, he and Paton have been reunited in Denver.
“It was never woe is me and he never felt sorry for himself,” Paton said of Bridgewater. “He just kept grinding and working. That’s the type of person Teddy is.”
All the attributes that attracted Paton to Bridgewater in the first place also fit the profile of a steady backup/mentor. Bridgewater is widely viewed in the NFL as a bridge QB, nothing more, but the Broncos are hoping he's still got it in him to be a reliable starting option once again.
Lock will have a little something to say about that. But as the biblical Gary Kubiak ethos says: iron sharpens iron. Paton and Fangio gave Lock the courtesy of informing him of Bridgewater's arrival before it hit the news wire.
“Vic and I met with Drew together and we’ve been upfront with Drew from the day I arrived," Paton said. "We talked to him yesterday and he embraced it. He likes the competition, and nothing fazes Drew. He is on a mission this offseason. He is here every morning and he stays late. He is doing all of the right things. We are excited to see his progress as we move forward.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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