The roller coaster ride that is the speculation surrounding the San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation took another turn on Monday.
According to Joseph Person, the Carolina Panthers beat writer for The Athletic, the Niners are among a group of teams who have contacted the Panthers about the availability of 2020 starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“San Francisco is among the teams that have called Carolina to gauge the Panthers’ interest in potentially trading Bridgewater, according to league sources. San Francisco general manager John Lynch indicated last week the 49ers would like to find a solid backup as insurance for oft-injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo,” Person wrote on Monday.
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Panthers Hot on the Trail of Deshaun Watson
The potential availability of Bridgewater, the 32nd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, hinges on the idea that the Panthers will need to continue to clear salary cap space to make a run at Deshaun Watson should the Houston Texans grant his trade request.
While the Texans don’t appear willing to play ball as they continually turn suitors away, the Panthers are preparing their roster to take on quarterback megadeal — say perhaps the four-year, $156 million deal Watson signed prior to last season. Between February 17-19, Carolina also released four players to clear $19.9 million in cap space, bringing their total allotment to $28.4 million.
According to ESPN, the Panthers already attempted to offer up Bridgewater in a deal for now-Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and will indeed shoot their shot with Watson if given the chance.
Before the moves, Carolina — according to league sources — offered Detroit the No. 8 pick, a fifth-round pick and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions ultimately traded with the Rams.
The Panthers, per a source, plan to make a strong run at Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson if the Texans grant the former Clemson star his wish to be traded.
Given San Francisco currently has approximately $16.4 million in cap space to spend with a projected $185 million team cap, Bridgewater’s $22.9 million cap hit for 2021 is a steep price to pay for a presumed backup signal-caller.
49ers Willing to Roll With Jimmy Garoppolo, but Bridgewater Still in Play
Due to Jimmy Garoppolo returning from multiple ankle sprains, carrying a $26.4 million cap hit and only $2.8 million in dead money if offloaded via release or trade, the future of the 29-year-old has been in question since last season. However, the 49ers’ brass have already declared its allegiance to Garoppolo moving forward.
“Kyle [Shanahan] and I have both spoken and spoken fairly directly, as to the fact we expect Jimmy to be our quarterback,” general manager John Lynch said on January 4, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
If the Panthers are unable to find a suitor for Bridgewater and still want to dump his salary and go another route under center next season, the 49ers could still make a run at bringing in the Pro Bowler to solidify the quarterback room if he is released in the coming weeks. In 15 starts last season, Carolina played to a 4-11 record as Bridgewater posted 3,733 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with 279 yards, five touchdowns and six fumbles on the ground.
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