Ladies and gentlemen, we have a splash.
The Denver Broncos are acquiring quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. Denver is sending a sixth-round pick (No. 191) to Carolina, per Pelissero. The teams later announced the swap.
Carolina is paying $7 million of Bridgewater's $10 million in guaranteed money for 2021, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported, meaning the Broncos are acquiring a legitimate option under center for just a late-round pick and $3 million this season.
Bridgewater isn't merely a reliable backup option, at least not yet. The quarterback is headed to the Broncos to compete for the starting job, NFL Network's James Palmer reported.
The trade comes a little over 24 hours before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, a selection process in which the Broncos were seen as a potentially strong candidate to choose a quarterback in the first round. The deal for Bridgewater does not preclude Denver from taking a quarterback Thursday night in Cleveland, per Palmer, but it does provide the Broncos with an option other than third-year signal-caller Drew Lock.
"Acquiring Teddy Bridgewater adds competition, experience and a strong veteran presence to our quarterback room," general manager George Paton said in a statement released by the Broncos.
Paton has complimented Lock's willingness to work on his craft in the short time they've been part of the same organization, but he's stopped short of making any sort of brash declaration about the former Missouri star. Paton has also said on multiple occasions that he'd be in the market for an additional quarterback this offseason -- with no specifics on whether that might come via free agency, trade or the draft -- to create competition with the hopes of finding an answer to Denver's quarterback question.
It's not yet solved, but Paton has at least completed the first portion of his goal with this deal. Bridgewater comes to Denver after posting the highest completion percentage of his career in his lone season with the Panthers in 2020, where he finished with a passer rating of 92.1 but didn't establish himself as a long-term solution for Carolina.
Earlier this offseason, Carolina acquired former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, essentially putting a ticking clock on Bridgewater's future in Charlotte. That watch has now expired with the deal, which nets the Panthers a late-round pick, frees them of any lingering quarterback controversy and gives the Broncos multiple options for 2021. A third could still come Thursday night.