Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is just one year into a three-year $63 million deal with the team, but his days in the Queen City may already be numbered.
No one will ever debate that Bridgewater is a good guy. I’ve never heard a negative story about him personally. Fans from previous stops have nothing but glowing things to say about him. His story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles serves as motivation for those on and off the football field. But this isn’t about Teddy the man. This is about Teddy the football player and his future with the Carolina Panthers.
Bridgewater didn’t walk into the easiest situation when he came to Carolina. A Panthers’ fan base salty about the way the franchise parted ways with long-time favorite and MVP Cam Newton, were heavily split when the former first-round pick signed with the team in March. Some thought the move would give Teddy the opportunity to prove himself as a franchise quarterback; others thought he would be just good (or bad) enough to put the Panthers outside of the running for one of the premier quarterbacks available in this year’s draft. The latter is true.
The Panthers finished season 5-11, with the 8th pick in the NFL Draft. There are a number of things Carolina can do here. They can use the selection in a package deal and go after DeShaun Watson, who is coming off a statistical MVP season and reportedly wants out of Houston. They can trade up the draft to ensure they land their quarterback of the future or they can roll the dice and see who’s there with the eighth selection. No matter what Rhule and new GM Scott Fitterer decide, it appears Teddy Bridgewater’s days with the Panthers are numbered.
During his introductory press conference today, Fitterer, who spent twenty years helping build the Seahawks into the NFC powerhouse they are now, placed emphasis on the importance of leaving all options open when it comes to acquiring talent. He also made it clear how important having a franchise quarterback is to a team’s success.
“Someone that gives you an opportunity to win when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. Someone who has the leadership qualities that when they walk in the building they know that’s the person in charge. Those are the most important things.”
When discussing why he hired Scott Fitterer David Tepper agreed on the importance of the quarterback position.
“You look at how Seattle has been so successful – probably 2nd most to New England – over the last few years as far as their record. Doesn’t hurt to have a quarterback that can take you there.”
The owner talked about having a quarterback who can take the team to the Super Bowl and the new GM talked about the importance of winning in the fourth quarter. Teddy Bridgewater was 0-8 this past season on game-winning or game-tying drives. Completion percentage is cute, but 4th quarter stats matter when you’re looking for a QB to build your franchise.
Don’t be surprised if the Panthers go all-in during the draft or free agency to land the guy they believe they’ll be able to build a franchise of sustained excellence around.