Matt Rhule is not sold on Teddy Bridgewater as the Carolina Panthers‘ starting quarterback for 2021, if the coach’s early-offseason comments have merit. Scott Fitterer, the team’s new general manager, appears to be in the same boat. Introduced to reporters on Friday, the longtime Seattle Seahawks executive made it clear that he’s yet to fully evaluate the Panthers’ current personnel, Bridgewater included. But when asked specifically about the quarterback position, he suggested Carolina will be looking to add competition under center, adding that the Panthers “will be in on every deal” after mention of Deshaun Watson’s potential availability.
“I’m not gonna get into hypotheticals,” Fitterer said when asked if a “certain quarterback from Houston” might be available via trade. “What I will tell you is we will be in on every deal. We’re gonna find out where things are going … But before we do anything outside, I need to figure out who’s here.”
Reading between the lines, it’s clear Fitterer is not content sitting on his hands ahead of the 2021 season, particularly at QB. Whether or not that means Bridgewater, who just last year inked a three-year contract with the club, is due to be replaced remains to be seen. But Fitterer explained that he believes in drafting or acquiring a quarterback every year, noting that “we’re gonna be very aggressive in our acquisition process,” championing “competition at all positions” and saying he’s looking for a fourth-quarter leader.
Bridgewater notably struggled in late-game situations during his first season as the Panthers’ starting QB.
“We have to evaluate our total offense — the players, the schemes — at every position, including Teddy,” Rhule said earlier this offseason. “Teddy has to have a tremendous offseason. Part of being a quarterback in this league is being able to withstand the physical toll of the season and playing your best football at the end of the year. I don’t know that I’ve seen that from him, and so my encouragement to him has been, ‘Hey, you need to have a great offseason.”