CHARLOTTE, NC – With all the hype and hoopla lost amidst Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the one signing that quietly slipped under the radar was former New Orleans Saints backup quarterback and first round pick, Teddy Bridgewater defecting to the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers.
In a division that has a combined seven Super Bowl rings, five Super Bowl MVP’s, 31 Pro Bowls and NFL first-team All-Pro’s between the aforementioned Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, as well considered by many as one of the most unpredictable, thanks to Bridgewater now in Carolina, the NFC South just got a lot more entertaining.
In five games filling in for Brees, the former 32nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Louisville went 5-0 while completing 67.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions while compiling a QB rating of 99.1
And in a division that features notable playmakers such as WR’s Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, running backs such as Ronald Jones, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey—who just inked a record four-year $64 million extension—in Carolina, Bridgewater is going to have his work cut out for him, as well as a chance to show that his five-game run and new three-year, $63 million contract was no fluke and a smart investment on the part of the Panthers.
While he may not be as accomplished as his fellow NFC South peers in Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans, the 27-year-old Bridgewater is also about a decade and a half younger than the 42-year-old Brady and 41-year-old Brees and seven years younger than the 34-year-old Ryan.
As they say, football is a young man’s game, and Father Time is undefeated.
One connection that many missed, and why Bridgewater may pick up where he left off down in New Orleans, is new Panthers offensive coordinator, Joe Brady. Brady, who helped some graduate transfer quarterback from Ohio State named Joe Burrow—you may have heard of him!—have arguably the greatest and most prolific season by a college quarterback in history down at LSU, en route to winning the Heisman and likely be the first player overall selected, in the 2020 NFL (Virtual!) Draft.
Their familiarity with each other from the Saints, as well as how the Panthers offense will look like and run, were key factors in Bridgewater’s decision to sign with Carolina. And on paper, Carolina isn’t exactly no slouch and with Brady likely to feature McCaffrey heavily in his offense along with newly-signed WR Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel.
So, while some experts have already written off the panthers due to the loss of former franchise and 2015 NFL MVP quarterback, Cam Newton, the panthers seem perfectly content with being overlooked, as their name and mascot in the wild, prefers being hidden from plain sight and waiting to pounce at any moment.