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Another big move in the National Football League came about on Monday, as the Carolina Panthers agreed to a deal for New York Jets fourth-year starting quarterback Sam Darnold.
It was just a matter of time before the Jets cut the cord with Darnold, who in three seasons as the Jets starter recorded a mark of 13-25. The team never made the postseason with him under center.
Jets GM Joe Douglas released a statement following the trade, giving props to the quarterback and his time in New York.
“I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets. He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet,” Douglas said.
“While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him.
“We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”
With Darnold now set to become THE man with the Panthers, the club has to figure out what to do with current starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Last season, Bridgewater was average at best, going 4-11 as a starter and throwing 15 touchdowns and 11 picks with a QB rating of 92.1.
Bridgewater and the Cats never felt like a good fit, and unless he declares he wants to stay in Carolina, he will likely move on to another squad.
Here are a few destinations where Bridgewater could land now that he has almost certainly taken his last snap with the Panthers.
1. Denver Broncos
The Broncos already have Drew Locke pretty well set as their starter, but don’t rule out Denver bringing Bridgewater in after the draft if the Panthers haven’t yet made a move with him.
A new setting with the thin air up in Denver might be a solid fit for Bridgewater,
2. Las Vegas Raiders
Bridgewater is just the kind of QB that Jon Gruden loves. He’s still young enough (28) to get out of the pocket and make things happen with his legs, and he also can fire a ball downfield in true Raiders fashion.
The Raiders already have QB Derek Carr firmly in place, so if Bridgewater were to move to Las Vegas, he would probably be holding a clipboard early. However, he could get playing time IF the Raiders struggle and need a QB.
3. Atlanta Falcons
Trading within the division is usually a big no-no, but the Falcons need a backup for Matt Ryan, and Bridgewater could be an interesting fit in ATL.
Arthur Smith, the new Falcons coach, would have a chance to work with Bridgewater from day one and get him ready to go in a pinch if needed.
Don’t rule out Bridgewater playing in Atlanta in 2021.
4. Miami Dolphins
With Ryan Fitz’Magic’ inking a one-year pact with Washington, the Fins are going to need a quarterback when the 2021 season gets rolling.
They will surely draft a QB with their first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft at the end of April.
Bridgewater would therefore have to take a backup job, as Tua Tagovailoa is right now listed as the Fins’ starting quarterback.
It would be interesting to see whether two intense QBs could get the job done and be successful in Miami.
5. Chicago Bears
The Bears cut ties with young QB Mitch Trubisky, who inked a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, leaving them in a bit of a bind at the QB spot.
The team went out and got former Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who brings plenty of experience to a roster that could use a solid veteran voice under center.
The question is – is that enough or should the Bears keep options open and take a look at a guy like Bridgewater, who could thrive playing in the NFC North?
Last season, Chicago got to the playoffs as a Wild Card, but it won’t be quite as easy in 2021 to make it to the NFL’s ‘second season.’