Teddy Bridgewater to Take Another Stab at QB1 in DEN

Dec 3, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) watches the action from the sideline in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Since Teddy Bridgewater’s career ended with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016-2017, the Louisville alumnus has inadvertently transformed into a young journeyman.

He was supposed to be the Vikings franchise signal-caller for a decade. But after his ghastly 2016 injury, Bridgewater has done the “bounce around” thing to the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, and Carolina Panthers.

Now, the 28-year-old is heading to Denver — presumably for a QB1 summer battle with the incumbent Drew Lock. Bridgewater was traded westward by the Carolina Panthers for a 6th-Round draft pick on Friday.

As it is draft season, several bright minds have forecasted that the Broncos will seize on a quarterback like Justin Fields or Trey Lance — if one/both of those gents fall to the #9 hole. After the Bridgewater addition, though, that theory should tentatively hit the backburner. Sources have already stated that this trade has “no effect” on Denver general manager George Paton’s decision to draft a quarterback. In theory, if Paton trades Drew Lock, then that is probably correct. But Lock is not a hot commodity.

It is more likely that Bridgewater and Lock duel this summer to decide the starting quarterback for 2021 — than Denver spending another piece of draft capital on a quarterback. Three’s a crowd.

This will give Bridgewater a chance to start. He has a starter’s credo and composure — it just didn’t shine all the way through in Carolina during 2020. The best version of the man was on display in New Orleans two years ago when Bridgewater and the Saints authored a 5-0 win-loss record during Drew Brees’ absence.

“That guy” didn’t make it big with the Panthers, however. Bridgewater was rather underwhelming in his one-year Carolina tenure. He tossed 15 touchdowns in 15 games. That won’t earn a man a job for the following year — at least not “these days.” Those numbers are more aligned with that of a suitable 1990s quarterback.

The difference-maker for Bridgewater could be his tutelage in Denver. He will reunite with Pat Shurmur — an offensive coordinator from the Bridgewater-Vikings era. And the guy that finagled Bridgewater to Denver, George Paton, likely played a role in drafting him to the Vikings in the first place. Changes of scenery sometimes have an impact, and Bridgewater will experience yet another one of those.

Also noteworthy: This is the second time in three years that Sam Darnold has “kicked Bridgewater out” of a job. The former Viking was slated to compete for a job with the New York Jets in 2018, but then the Jets brass opted for Darnold — only to trade him three years later (now). Bridgewater found his way to Carolina — and voila — there’s Darnold coming for his employee badge. The Panthers traded three draft picks to New York for Darnold in early April.

Therefore, Darnold caused Bridgewater’s eviction for the second time.

For 2021’s sake, it is not preordained that Drew Lock will tout the QB1 title. He’s the frontrunner because of a promising 2019 stint, but that security is shoddy. Bridgewater could usurp Lock as early as August depending on the adventures of training camp. The Paton-Shurmur familiarity with Bridgewater is to the detriment of Lock’s starting stock.

Then, the next step is to define Bridgewater’s career wavelength. Is he truly a mediocre quarterback — the one that was evident in Carolina? Was than an outlier?

For now, it feels like Bridgewater’s ceiling is akin to Nick Foles — striking gold for a season or two, attempting to convince a team that he’s the real deal for the long-term.