Denver Broncos: Teddy Bridgewater trade impact on draft plans

Denver Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos struck a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater the day before the 2021 NFL Draft. What in the world could this mean?

The trade for Bridgewater has led to many drawing their own conclusions about what the Denver Broncos will or will not do in the 2021 NFL Draft. Does this move take them out of the mix for whatever quarterback(s) might be available with the 9th overall pick?

The fact of the matter is, the Denver Broncos went into today with their minds already made up with what they were going to do. They may not know yet what they’re going to do, but they have plans in place.

George Paton signaled as much by sending his scouts out for a round of golf while he hung back at the office to man the phones and make the deal for Bridgewater. Paton has his plans laid out, and he is ready to execute.

The reality of this situation is, Paton’s decision to pull the trigger on the Teddy Bridgewater trade now allows him to confidently approach any one of the paths he’s chosen for Thursday night. Meaning this: If he wanted a quarterback before the trade, he still wants one now. If he didn’t want a quarterback before the trade, he still doesn’t want one now.

All of the evidence up to now points to the Denver Broncos having substantial interest in at least two quarterbacks in this draft that will realistically be available to them (Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and there’s even been some buzz for Mac Jones).

The addition of Teddy Bridgewater gives the Denver Broncos a veteran option and fail-safe in case they do not land the quarterback they’re looking for in the 2021 NFL Draft. George Paton has spoken multiple times this offseason about Drew Lock and how he likes Lock’s potential.

The team has certainly not ruled out moving on from Lock and has now made good on the promise of applying significant pressure on him. Teddy Bridgewater will be competition for Lock but the Broncos renegotiated his contract to expire after the 2021 season. It’s only a one-year deal.

Bridgewater is not in Denver for the long haul, he’s there to try to win a job this year. He could do that whether Lock is there or not.

Lock has two years remaining on his contract. That’s enough time for the Denver Broncos to take an alternate route (besides quarterback) early in the 2021 NFL Draft if they want to and continue to form an opinion about the guy with a bit more “normal” circumstances this year compared to last year.

Still, if neither Lock nor Bridgewater proves to be the answer for the Denver Broncos and they pass on a potential star in Fields or Lance, that reflects extremely poorly on George Paton.

Is Paton willing to take that risk even though he doesn’t have any real pressing needs to use that top pick on?

It certainly makes more sense for Paton to take a swing at a quarterback, let the guys in the room fight it out for the job, and go from there.

This isn’t a case where “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none” really applies. If you have two guys you know are not the answer, that old saying holds true. If you have at least one guy who might be the answer?

The rationale for investing in one of these quarterbacks is extremely straightforward.

First of all, you’re investing in the most important position on the team when you currently have no clear answer there. That’s never bad practice in the NFL Draft. As a bonus, what position do the Denver Broncos need more than quarterback right now? The roster is solid everywhere.

Second of all, you’re investing in quite possibly two guys who would be QB1 or QB2 in most draft classes. In this particular draft, they are poised to be QB4 or QB5.

Third, the team has eliminated the pressure to throw the guy into the fold right away. Bridgewater assures you have a veteran capable of helping the team win with steady, relatively mistake-free play by comparison to Drew Lock in 2020.

The Denver Broncos now have to compete with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert for at least four games per season, probably more if they want to compete with those guys for championships.

Since that is the ultimate goal, why not take a guy you feel has the upside of a star quarterback?

Bridgewater is the Alex Smith. Fields or Lance could be the Mahomes.

Teddy Bridgewater is exactly as George Paton described him in the team’s press release. He’s a veteran who brings competition and experience to the room. Drew Lock gives you a younger guy with upside if you are unable to draft the guy you want.

To this point, Paton has done a great job of keeping things under wraps, but the fact that he sent his scouting department golfing the day before the draft? There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a big-time power move and show of ultimate confidence in a very specific plan.

What does Paton have in the works right now? Does he have a deal in place to trade up if the right guy is on the board?

Taking a quarterback is definitely not off the table with Teddy Bridgewater on board. The appearance to some might be that the Broncos are content at the quarterback position, and it could still turn out that they are.

Unfortunately, that path could lead them right back to where they are today a year from now. That path could lead to changes on the coaching staff. That path could cost them a legitimate shot at annual competition with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

The quarterback makes all the difference. Could Drew Lock still be the guy? Absolutely. But Teddy Bridgewater does not protect against him not being the guy. Justin Fields or Trey Lance? Well, they might.