Matt Rhule put Teddy Bridgewater on notice with a Week 17 benching.
On Monday, the Carolina Panthers coach reiterated he needs to see more out of the quarterback heading into 2021 and did not rule out selecting a QB in the draft this year.
"Teddy has to have a tremendous offseason,'' Rhule said, via David Newton of ESPN.
Rhule benched Bridgewater midway through the third quarter of Sunday's 33-7 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints. Bridgewater completed 13-of-23 passes for 176 yards with two INTs. P.J. Walker faired no better, completing just five of 14 passes for 95 yards and three interceptions.
Rhule noted that Bridgewater's play trended downward after he got hurt in Week 10.
"Ever since he got hurt in the second half of the Tampa Bay game, Teddy hasn't played his best football," Rhule said, per Bill Voth of the team's official website. "My encouragement to him has been, 'Hey, you've got to have a great offseason.'"
Since Week 10, Bridgewater completed 62.96 percent of his passes, averaged 236.2 yards per game, threw four INTs to just two TDs, took 12 sacks, and earned a passer rating of 78.8 in five games. In the first 10 games of the season, he averaged 255 yards per game, completed 72.12 percent of his passes with 13 TDs, 7 INTs, took 19 sacks, and had a passer rating of 98.7.
For his part, Bridgewater wasn't concerned about the benching heading into the offseason.
"This is my team and I'm going to continue to conduct myself that way," he said.
Bridgewater's contract, which carries a $23 million cap hit in 2021, was designed to have him in Carolina for at least two years.
The Panthers are a prime contender to add a young signal-caller to either learn behind Bridgewater or compete for the starting gig. Carolina sniffing around discarded Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins underscores the club's plans to infuse the QB room with at least one young signal-caller.
Parsing Rhule's comments, Bridgewater will have to earn the starting gig once again this offseason.