With the news breaking earlier today that the team would allow 2011 #1 overall pick and face of the franchise Cam Newton to seek a trade, only to have that message rebuffed by Newton himself on social media, multiple reports came Tuesday afternoon that the team is nearing a three-year deal worth $60m with former Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The 27-year old Bridgewater, who was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, has spent the past two seasons backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans – after a brief stop in New York during the 2018 offseason, he was traded to New Orleans along with a sixth-round pick for a third-rounder.
Bridgewater was voted Pepsi Rookie of the Year and went to the Pro Bowl in his second season, but a non-contact left knee injury that included an ACL tear as well as other structural damage cost the Louisville product the entire 2016 season. After doctors projected him to miss the entire 2017 season as well, Bridgewater was able to rehab his way back onto the field – after being activated off the PUP list in November, Bridgewater entered a game in relief of starter Case Keenum to a standing ovation in Week 15.
In his time in New Orleans, Bridgewater has started six games, with a 5-1 record as he completed 67.9% of his passes – he threw for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions in 2019. While Bridgewater brings a familiarity with Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s system – Brady was an assistant with the Saints before heading to LSU last season – that may give him a leg up in what might be a truncated offseason schedule as the NFL deals with the implications of the coronavirus, his career aDOT (average depth of target) is only 7.4 yards per attempt, good for 95th in the league.
Those quick-hitting, accurate passes may fit in perfectly with Brady’s system, but those hoping for a more wide open offense may be disappointed to find that Bridgewater only attempted 14 passes that traveled 20 yards or further in the air in his six starts last season – the Panthers have had trouble completing passes downfield of late, with Newton’s struggles over the past two seasons well-documented and Kyle Allen being among the least accurate deep passers in the NFL in 2019.
But Bridgewater brings with him a new era in Carolina, the only question being whether the three-year deal is simply a test balloon for a longer run or a bridge between Newton’s time in Carolina and the next young quarterback to lead Matt Rhule, David Tepper and the Panthers into the next era of Carolina football.
Only time will tell, but for now it would appear that Cam Newton is out — and Teddy Bridgewater is in.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 17, 2020