NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers


  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman points out the Buccaneers have not re-signed either backup quarterback from last season, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin, meaning they have an opportunity to pursue Teddy Bridgewater who the team liked as an option last offseason.
  • Bridgewater is due $10 million guaranteed in 2021 from the Panthers, so Auman says the two teams could follow a similar template that the Broncos and Washington did in a trade involving Case Keenum a couple seasons ago, splitting his base salary between them and swapping late-round picks. 
  • Auman notes there are some obstacles, as division rivals typically are hesitant to trade with each other. Tampa Bay also wouldn’t be able to currently afford even half of Bridgewater’s $10 million in 2021 guarantees on their cap right now. 
  • At this point, though, the Buccaneers are not believed to be involved in a potential trade for Bridgewater. (NFLTR)


  • Tony Pauline of PFN notes that the trade of Sam Darnold to the Panthers puts the Falcons in a tough spot, as a trade back would likely leave them outside the top twelve picks unless made a trade with Denver. This would likely result in the Falcons missing out on some of the best players in the draft.


Connor Hughes and Joseph Person of The Athletic note that the trade of QB Sam Darnold from the Jets to the Panthers was months in the making, and started back in January. They continued at the pro day of Utah QB Zach Wilson. Eventually, it was a meeting between Panthers GM Scott Fitterer, Panthers HC Matt Rhule, and Jets GM Joe Douglas at the pro day for Ohio State QB Justin Fields that got the ball rolling.

The Panthers studied three years of NFL game tape on Darnold, which was done by Rhule himself, along with the Panthers’ pro scouts. Rhule and Fitterer also sought endorsements from ex-teammates of Darnold such as WR Robby Anderson.

 “I keep going back to the competitor that Sam is,” Fitterer said. “I’ve talked to players, people in the Jets organization. There are players that have been there, and they all just rave about the work ethic, the person, the guy that comes in the building every day. I love that — that we’re adding that to our locker room.”

Fitterer was continually in contact with Douglas, who was attempting to hold off on the deal until all the quarterback prospects completed their pro-day workouts.

“Joe’s been a good friend for a long time. We saw him at several of the quarterback workouts this year,” Fitterer said. “I think we were both on the same page: Hey, let’s get through all these workouts, see what the medicals are. Let’s see what these guys are like in the workouts, on Zoom, and everything else. Let’s learn as much as we can about this.”

At Fields’ throwing session, Rhule and Fitterer spoke to Douglas about Darnold. Douglas indicated the Jets would not simply give Darnold away, which fired up the trade talks.

“When it comes to finding out just the right compensation, they value their players a certain way. And we look at them and we evaluate them a certain way. It’s just trying to find that happy medium so that we can all make a value decision that we think is valuable for us,” Fitterer said. “We see him as a starter. They really like Sam. They saw him as a starter. They’re in a position where they can make multiple decisions or take a quarterback at the top of the draft. So we just had to come to an agreement on what the right price was.”

Douglas was unsure about pulling the trigger, as he felt there was a chance the Jets could end up with a first-round pick if they held Darnold until the draft. Carolina then made the decision to include the fourth-rounder, in addition to the second and sixth which solidified the deal. Douglas was afraid that by not doing the deal, Carolina would end up going in a different direction, as Washington and San Francisco decided to.

“We felt like this was a decision that was best for all parties,” Douglas says. “We feel really good with the value and the compensation we were able to get from Carolina. These assets we have through the draft — it is incumbent on us to get these decisions right. … We have to surround our next quarterback with as much talent as possible. … We have to make the most of this opportunity.”

Carolina seems to have finally gotten their quarterback of the future, after their offer of the eighth overall pick, a fifth-round pick, and QB Teddy Bridgewater for Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford fell apart. They can now turn their attention to some of the top players in the draft such as T Penei Sewell, TE Kyle Pitts, and CB Patrick Surtain Jr.

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