Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had an up-and-down first season with the Panthers and nothing is entirely guaranteed for Year 2.
Bridgewater said on Monday he understands the NFL is a business and that the Panthers could draft his replacement at No. 8 overall. But given Bridgewater’s contract means he’ll almost certainly start the season on Carolina’s roster, head coach Matt Rhule would like to see significant improvement for 2021.
“Teddy has to have a tremendous offseason,” Rhule said, via David Newton of ESPN. “Part of being a quarterback in this league is being able to withstand the physical toll of the season, playing your best football at the end of the year. I don’t think I’ve seen that from him.”
Bridgewater ended 2020 having completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,733 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, good for a 92.1 passer rating. That figure is No. 22 among qualified leaders.
Rhule said he thought Bridgewater played well early on in 2020, but things changed when the quarterback suffered a knee injury in the Week 10 loss to Tampa Bay. He missed the following matchup against the Bears. In the season’s final five games, Bridgewater completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,181 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He also had a pair of rushing touchdowns, but lost two of his five fumbles and got sacked 12 times.
All that means there’s plenty of uncertainty about Carolina’s quarterback situation as the team moves into the offseason.
“Teddy is here. I have a lot of respect for him. I believe in what he can do. I’ve seen glimpses, flashes of us as an offense looking really good. We need to get Christian [McCaffrey] back. We need to have a run game we can rely on,” Rhule said. “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.”