Teddy Bridgewater is remotely getting to know the Panthers roster. We can help (2024)

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New Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is self-isolating in his home in Miami as the world continues to reel from the coronavirus pandemic, but he’s doing what he can to get to know his new teammates all the same.

“I’ve been able to exchange text messages with different guys, checking in and making sure everyone is safe and their families are doing well,” he told reporters Thursday in the Panthers’ first-ever “virtual” press conference (via Zoom video chat).


That’s not all. Bridgewater is really familiar with new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady from their time together in New Orleans (and both are South Florida guys, too), but he’s still trying to get an actual feel for what Carolina’s personnel — what’s left of it, anyway — will actually be able to do on the field.

So along with going over old play call sheets and game plans, he’s playing Madden.

“Yeah, actually, you get a feel for the roster, some of the guys on the roster,” he said, laughing, “so that’s a huge help. You also have the internet for that.”

With football activities postponed indefinitely, teams will have to figure out a way to get everybody on the same page. So far, Bridgewater appears to be off to a good start.

We can help, too. As the first wave-and-a-half of free agency came and went, the Panthers lost a ton of players — but signed several, too (thankfully for Bridgewater, Madden rosters update weekly). Below is our analysis of where things stand by position, including departures and arrivals and what all of it means:



Additions: Teddy Bridgewater (signed to a three-year, $63 million deal), PJ Walker (signed to a two-year, $1.5 million deal)

Subtractions: Cam Newton (released), Kyle Allen (traded to Washington for a fifth-round pick)

Depth chart: Bridgewater, Walker, Will Grier

Jourdan’s take: I am pretty intrigued by both quarterback pickups in Carolina. Team sources said last week that Bridgewater was a hopeful possibility for the Panthers for a long time, and as he became attainable financially, they solidified what had been some pretty fluid ideas about who their starting quarterback would be in 2020. What the Panthers like about Bridgewater is his character as a leader and ability to draw people to him, his knowledge of the “Joe Brady” offense, which will blend concepts with which Bridgewater was familiar in New Orleans — particularly in an unprecedented time that will keep coaches from interacting with players for possibly months — and his upside. Bridgewater could be “OK,” or he could be very good. His deal doesn’t keep the Panthers strapped in for really more than two years (there is an “out” after the 2021 season), and he might be a great bridge guy for whoever the next face of the franchise is.


I also am VERY intrigued by Walker, who played for Matt Rhule at Temple. The dude has been lighting up the XFL in a very Pat Mahomes-y way, and I like the idea of competition between him and Bridgewater — even with Bridgewater the projected starter.

Joe’s take: Judging by my Twitter mentions and reader comments under our stories, there is a large portion of the fan base that is still pissed about Newton’s release (and the handling of it). So is Cam, who said in an Instagram post Wednesday that the Panthers “gave up on me.” There’s no getting around it. But if David Tepper, Marty Hurney, Rhule and Brady were ready to start with a clean slate at quarterback, Bridgewater was a good choice to serve as the bridge. He knows Brady’s offense, he’s shown he can be successful in that type of system, and he has a great reputation as a leader and a locker room guy.

If you’re starting fresh in the quarterback room, the Panthers figured they’d bring in a new backup, as well. So they traded Allen to Washington for a fifth-round pick and signed Walker, one of four players who played for Rhule at Temple who have signed with the Panthers. Walker is a bit undersized and doesn’t have a big arm, but he’s athletic and can extend plays with his arm and his feet.

Running back

Additions: N/A

Subtractions: N/A

Depth chart: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Mike Davis, Jordan Scarlett

Jourdan’s take: It’s not really an “addition,” but the Panthers were smart to extend Bonnafon before free agency began. Bonnafon is an up-and-comer who may get more touches in Brady’s offense and who would certainly be a handy guy to have around in case of a McCaffrey holdout. Because it seems the Panthers are committing to a sort of “rebuild on the fly” situation, after some disagreement within the building about whether to just tear the whole thing down or try to win early, I would think the chances of a McCaffrey deal getting done increase. Rhule can’t start his coaching tenure with a holdout — not with all the bad optics around the Newton situation still fresh in the minds of the paying ticketholders. There will be some talk within the building of trading McCaffrey for draft capital, but my instinct on Hurney tells me he tries to get a deal done with McCaffrey — who will be approaching negotiations as a receiver who can run the ball, and not a running back — this spring.


Joe’s take: I’m torn on this one. I get what the analytics say about paying running backs, and Todd Gurley serves as an expensive reminder to that line of thinking. And make no mistake, McCaffrey could bring the Panthers serious draft capital. But trading him would leave a franchise that already has parted ways with Newton, Luke Kuechly and Greg Olsen without its biggest remaining star. At some point, you have to have All-Pro players to build your offense and marketing plan around. McCaffrey has picked up an inordinate amount of wear and tear through his first three seasons. But a lot of those snaps have come as a receiver, which McCaffrey’s representatives will try to use to their advantage in negotiations.

Wide receiver

Additions: Robby Anderson (two years, $20 million), Seth Roberts (one year), Keith Kirkwood (one year), Pharoh Cooper (one year), DeAndrew White (one year, re-signed)

Subtractions:Jarius Wright (option declined), Chris Hogan

Depth chart: Anderson, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Kirkwood, Cooper (KR/PR)

Jourdan’s take: Brady’s offense is going to get five-receiver sets on the field a lot (which is why above we listed the five likeliest options), so it makes sense that they’re bringing in a lot of guys — even if only for a year or so while they draft talent at receiver in the next two years. I’m not too convinced on some of these names, but I like the Cooper pickup because I’ve been pounding the table for the Panthers to find a solid return specialist, and I do really like the Anderson signing. Between Rhule, Anderson, Walker and Kirkwood, it’s like the 2015 Temple Owls re-created here in Charlotte. And there is good speed across the board.

Joe’s take: It feels like the Panthers stocked up at receiver at the expense of other position groups, particularly on defense. Carolina might give up a bunch of points, but the Panthers should be able to move the ball offensively. If nothing else, Hurney and Rhule have provided Bridgewater more weapons, including another guy who can blow the top off the defense in Anderson. Bridgewater and Anderson, who are both from South Florida, are extremely close and played together briefly with the Jets. Brady could go to an empty set featuring Moore, Samuel and Anderson — with tight end Ian Thomas and McCaffrey also lined up wide — and let Bridgewater find the best matchup.

Tight end

Additions: Seth DeValve


Subtractions: Greg Olsen (released before free agency, signed with Seattle)

Depth chart: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz/DeValve, Alex Armah

Jourdan’s take: The Panthers could never afford to use high draft capital, or top dollars, on a tight end after Olsen’s departure, simply because they have too many other glaring needs. DeValve has good hands and can block and will still allow room for Thomas to develop into the top tight end for Carolina.

Joe’s take: The DeValve acquisition gives Brady another pass-catching tight end to complement Thomas and Manhertz, the blocking specialist. But really, the success of this group falls squarely on Thomas, who gets a chance to prove he can be an elite tight end after backing up Olsen for two seasons. Thomas would seem to have the athleticism and skill set to thrive in Brady’s offense. He’s shown flashes early in his career, especially with his ability to separate. If Thomas can do so consistently over a 16-game schedule, that’s a big box checked for the Panthers offense.

Offensive line

Additions: Left tackle Russell Okung (one year, $13 million), right guard John Miller (one year, $4 million)

Subtractions: Right guard Trai Turner (trade for Okung), left guard, reserve center Greg Van Roten (signed with the New York Jets)

Depth chart: LT Okung, Greg Little. LG Dennis Daley, Tyler Larsen/free agent/draft pick. C Matt Paradis, Larsen. RG Miller, Larsen/Daley/draft pick. RT Taylor Moton, and … three depth guys who have all played mostly left tackle. Or a draft pick.

Jourdan’s take: The depth here should be sort of concerning. The Panthers have two guards currently listed on their roster and would be forced to dip into center depth in a pinch — and only have two centers on the roster. I like that Little gets a year to develop more, since he missed most of even his practice reps last year — and I would vehemently disagree with the coaching staff trying him out at guard, thus further hindering his development at left tackle, where he has played his entire career. Little is long-limbed with good feet. Hurney traded up to bring him in at left tackle. Keep him developing at left tackle, because good ones are seriously hard to find.


I like the Miller addition, because he’s so familiar with Bridgewater (blocked for him in college) and, well, they had no guards on the roster. This is an area of concern right now.

Joe’s take: While the defensive line definitely needs reinforcements, the O-line could use some of its own. The Panthers parted with both of their starting guards, replacing Turner with Miller, whom the Bengals cut a year after giving him a three-year deal. The other guard spot looks like it will go to Daley, who struggled as a rookie at tackle but should benefit from moving inside. If Okung can stay healthy, he’s a big upgrade at left tackle, which was a revolving door last year due to injuries and inconsistent play. Factor in Paradis and Moton, and the starting line looks like it could be OK. But Hurney has to make some moves to improve the depth.


Defensive line

Additions: DE Stephen Weatherly (two years, $12.5 million), DE Chris Smith (one year, $1.495 million), DT Zach Kerr

Subtractions: DE Mario Addison (Buffalo), DE Bruce Irvin (Seattle), DE Wes Horton (retired), DT Gerald McCoy (Dallas), DT Dontari Poe (Dallas), DT Vernon Butler (Buffalo)

Depth chart: LDE Stephen Weatherly/Efe Obada; DT Kawann Short/Free agent TBA; DT draft pick/Zach Kerr; RDE Brian Burns/Marquis Haynes/Christian Miller

Jourdan’s take: The stunning lack of interior depth here is a problem. Hell, the lack of starting interior defensive linemen is a problem. The fact that Carolina is sort of showing its hand in the draft? Also a problem. The Panthers need to take either a top defensive tackle OR a top corner at No. 7. That leaves only a few options — Javon Kinlaw, Derrick Brown, Jeff Okudah are all excellent — but it’s not altogether great strategy to be hamstrung by need if you have a top-10 pick. Carolina was historically bad against the run last year and will be again this season with this current lineup.

Joe’s take: Obviously, there are a lot of big gaps remaining on that depth chart following the mass exodus in free agency. The Panthers added a depth piece in Kerr, a 6-2, 334-pound nose tackle whose best season came in 2018 with Denver, where he finished with 33 tackles and 1.5 sacks. But Hurney still needs to find another interior playmaker, and Brown certainly fits the description. Depending on what the Panthers do in the latter stages of free agency, they could need a starting cornerback or defensive tackle heading into the draft. Another interesting wrinkle up front: Getting players like Burns and Miller comfortable as 4-3 defensive ends after they were drafted as 3-4 outside linebackers. Both are athletic pass rushers but might not be big enough to set the edge against the run.

Teddy Bridgewater is remotely getting to know the Panthers roster. We can help (1)

Tahir Whitehead (Stan Szeto / USA Today)


Additions: Tahir Whitehead (one year, $2.5 million)

Subtractions: Luke Kuechly (retired)

Depth chart: OLB Shaq Thompson/Jordan Kunaszyk; MLB Tahir Whitehead/Andre Smith; OLB Jermaine Carter/free agent or draft pick

Jourdan’s take: I like the addition of Whitehead, who is a bit of a stopgap if the Panthers can’t find a solution at middle linebacker in the draft. I like how Carter has been developing but feel the Panthers need to add a couple of linebackers in the draft, and not just in the middle. Needs here put them, again, in a difficult position considering their additional needs up front and in the secondary.


Joe’s take: Let’s face it: There’s no real replacing Kuechly, whose retirement served as the jarring start to a major overhaul to the defense. As The Athletic recently reported, the Panthers will return to a 4-3 under Phil Snow, who has indicated he’ll use multiple fronts, as he has at his previous stops. Bringing in Whitehead was a sneaky good move, as it allows the Panthers to use Thompson at the weakside linebacker spot, where he can make plays in space. Whitehead has a poor track record in coverage, but he’s been solid enough against the run. That said, if Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons somehow falls to the Panthers at No. 7, I don’t see how Hurney could pass on him. Carter started five games last season, including a 10-tackle outing against the Saints in Week 17.


Additions: S Tre Boston (re-signed, three years, $18 million), S Juston Burris (two years, $8 million)

Subtractions: CB James Bradberry (Giants), S Eric Reid (released), S Colin Jones

Depth chart: CB Donte Jackson/Corn Elder; CB free agent or draft pick/Cole Luke; SS Juston Burris/free agent or draft pick; FS Tre Boston/T.J. Green

Joe’s take: Take a quick glance at that depth chart and then imagine the secondary (as currently constructed) trying to stop Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, the murderer’s row of QBs in the NFC South. Gulp. Clearly, this group needs major help, be it from Ohio State corner Jeff Okudah (ideally) and/or one of the several intriguing free-agent corners still unsigned. After deciding they didn’t want to meet Bradberry’s asking price, the Panthers need a big bounce-back year from Jackson, who seemed to fall out of favor with the former coaching staff. Hurney essentially swapped Reid for Burris, the former NC State cornerback who is big enough to play in the box, but with the range and skill set to cover tight ends.

Jourdan’s take: Can’t really sum it up better than Joe — the Panthers are going to get torched bad if they can’t find a Day 1 starting-caliber cornerback in the draft, which, again, broadcasts their needs and draft strategy almost frustratingly so. I love Okudah but wonder if he’ll be available. If not, Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene would be a fantastic fit as a second-round option.

Special teams

Additions: PR/KR Cooper (one year, $1.21 million), K Joey Slye (re-signed, one year, $675,000)


Subtractions: N/A

Depth chart: K Joey Slye/Graham Gano; P Michael Palardy; LS J.J. Jansen; PR/KR Cooper

Joe’s take: Cooper gives the Panthers the home-run threat they’ve lacked in the return game since Ted Ginn left. Rhule has a decision to make at kicker. Slye connected on 25-of-32 FG attempts (including 8-of-11 from 50 yards-plus) last season after Gano went on injured reserve with a leg injury that required surgery. If Gano is healthy, he could be traded to a team looking for a kicker (New England, anyone?).

Jourdan’s take: Finally, FINALLY a return specialist. F I N A L L Y.

(Top photo of Robby Anderson: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

Teddy Bridgewater is remotely getting to know the Panthers roster. We can help (2024)
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