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What will the Teddy Bridgewater trade mean for the Broncos’ draft plans?

I spoke with the Roar’s John Ellis to get his thoughts on the former Panther.

George Paton is nothing if not patient. Long before Sam Darnold entered the picture, the Broncos loomed as an obvious landing spot for Teddy Bridgewater. Paton was the Vikings’ assistant general manager when Minnesota traded up to the last pick of the first round of the 2014 draft to select the quarterback out of Louisville.

The 28-year old found his way to the field early and threw 849 passes for 6150 yards and 28 touchdowns across his first two years in the NFL. Disaster struck in year three when Bridgewater tore his ACL and suffered other structural damage, including a dislocation of the knee joint.

The injury had a profound impact on both Paton and Bridgewater’s careers. It effectively ended Bridgewater’s rein as the Vikings’ franchise quarterback and led the front office to a desperate trade for Sam Bradford that eventually led to Case Keenum and finally, Kirk Cousins.

Bridgewater left Minnesota for New York and had a short stint with the Jets, completing 74% of his passes for 316 yards, two touchdowns and an interception across three preseason games. After it became obvious Sam Darnold would take the week one starting job, Mike Maccagnan traded Bridgewater and a sixth round pick to the New Orleans Saints for a third rounder.

After two years backing up Drew Brees, Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers for 3-years and $63 million to reunite with Joe Brady. One year later, the Broncos acquired him for a sixth round pick.

I’ve long been familiar with Bridgewater. The mere fact he’s become available so many times since 2014 means I’ve considered him numerous times as an option for the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired. I studied him as recently as last Autumn before Denver faced off against the Panthers.

While I do not believe Bridgewater should prevent George Paton from trying to acquire a rookie passer in the 2021 draft, it was a great move. The 28-year old has served just about every role you can imagine a quarterback will play in the league: he’s been a “franchise guy,” a starter, a backup, and on the fridge of the picture while he worked back from injury. We celebrate Alex Smith’s comeback from his broken leg and rightly so, but Bridgewater’s perseverance to make his way back to from should warrant similar praise.

In addition to his experiences, he’s the kind of cerebral quarterback who can serve as a steadying hand if Drew Lock falters in his third season. Bridgewater’s numbers hardly stir the imagination and a downfield bomber he is not, but he’s capable of playing complimentary football and putting his supporting cast in position to win the day. If Lock has not improved from last year, Bridgewater will serve as legitimate competition.

Trading for a veteran quarterback on this side of the draft also provides George Paton an opportunity to approach tonight without a dire need at any spot on the roster. At least on paper, there is a capable starter at every position which means the Broncos can afford to be patient if they so choose. If Paton wishes, they can also be aggressive in acquiring a rookie signal caller who needs time to season. As of this moment there are two quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart, and even if Lock is traded before week one a veteran is in place.

The deal looks so good for Denver it left me curious about how the deal was viewed from Carolina’s perspective, which led me to reaching out to the Roar’s John Ellis, who was gracious enough to put a pause on his own draft preparation to share his thoughts.

1st and 10

Were you happy with Bridgewater’s season in Carolina? Why/Why not?

Ellis: It went how I expected, for the most part. His film never blew me away in terms of vertical competency, and he always felt a little too scheme-dependent. Some of the situational gaffes down the stretch were uncharacteristic. That was disappointing. The injury didn’t help matters.

2nd and 8

Did you want the Panthers to deal Teddy? What do you think of the trade?

Ellis: Yes, it was prudent to deal him, particularly before the draft. A 6th rounder seems about right.

3rd and 5

What do you think Bridgewater offers Pat Shurmur and the Broncos’ offense?

Ellis: Teddy needs to be insulated. He’s very accurate when given time, and does possess underrated athleticism. They need to follow the Saints formula: play stingy defense, insulate him with a strong running game, and run PA concepts off of that.

4th and inches

Do you think this was a good deal for the Broncos? Should George Paton pass on rookie passers now?

Ellis: I don’t think Denver should pass on Fields or Lance, if given the chance. Lock still needs to show he’s the complete package, and Teddy is a bottom-tier, stop-gap starter.