Panthers head coach Matt Rhule addressed the media with this statement about the current state of the quarterback position in Carolina on Monday:
“With regards to the draft and players, we’ll look at every opportunity to have the best we can have at every position, and that includes the quarterback position."
That doesn't sound like a coach who is fully confident in his starting quarterback, who is seemingly on the hot seat right now. Rhule later made this statement about Bridgewater's circumstances:
"Teddy played well early on in the season. I personally feel since Teddy got hurt the second half of the Tampa Bay game, Teddy hasn’t played his best football."
When Bridgewater was asked about mentoring a young quarterback in the future, he said this:
“I approach it one day at a time. This is my team and I’m going to continue conduct myself that way.”
Similarly to last year, addressing the quarterback position is one of the biggest questions this organization has to answer this offseason.
This time around, this process has to do with Teddy Bridgewater, who performed below expectations this season. Anybody who disputes this has to assume that he is currently worth the three-year, $63 million contract that he received last offseason.
Teddy Bridgewater is 0-8 when he had the opportunity to help his team win or tie on their last possession this season.
It's safe to say that he doesn't have a "clutch gene," which is pretty significant if you want to have a reliable franchise quarterback. Bridgewater had eight opportunities to prove that he is the winner that he was advertised to be when he was signed, and he missed every single one of them. As a result, the Panthers ended the season at 5-11 (4-11 with Bridgewater at quarterback.) All of the blame shouldn't be placed on Bridgewater, because this team had a plethora of issues this season. However, it should be understood that his actions on the field were a significant part of every single loss his team faced. This season, Bridgewater threw for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 279 yards and five touchdowns with six fumbles included. While these aren't the worst statistics in the world, they could have been much better.
Cutting Bridgewater this offseason would cost Carolina $20 million in dead cap.
Considering that the Panthers have a very important free agency period to face, it wouldn't be wise for them to take his dead money in 2021, no matter how badly Bridgewater played. The window for the Panthers to cut Bridgewater would be in 2022 since the dead cap would be much more affordable at $5 million by then. Carolina could try to trade Bridgewater in 2021, but let's be honest here. With the understanding of who he is as a quarterback and his less than ideal production this past season, which team is willing to pick up his contract right now?
Anything can happen in the NFL, but that situation is highly unlikely. The Panthers currently have the No. 8 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Will they go with a quarterback? Time will tell. Carolina would have to trade the entire farm for the No. 1 pick, which seems like Trevor Lawrence's spot. However, a more viable trade could be used for picks 2-5. The team doesn't even have a general manager at the moment, so we have to see how everything plays out. If I were a betting man, I would assume that Bridgewater will be off the roster by 2022.
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