The 2020 NFL offseason has been abnormally eventful, as multiple former Pro Bowl quarterbacks have opted to leave their respective teams. Although the list of 2020 free agents included NFL legends Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will find the most success.
After playing 20 seasons in New England, Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March, according to NFL.com. He may struggle to adjust in Tampa Bay after slowing down in New England.
At age 43, he finally showed signs of aging in 2019. Last season, Tom Brady averaged 6.6 yards per passing attempt — his lowest total since 2002, according to Pro Football Reference.
The veteran also showed a decrease in accuracy, despite averaging one of the lowest yards per attempt totals in the league. Tom Brady’s completion percentage of 60.8 was ranked 27th among all NFL quarterbacks in 2019.
Tom Brady’s longtime AFC rival Rivers also sought greener pastures, signing with the Indianapolis Colts after 16 seasons as a Charger. Rivers showed a significant decrease in production last season, totaling 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
The departures of Tom Brady and Rivers have garnered most of the national attention during this offseason. However, another former Pro Bowler will likely find more success on his new team.
On March 17, Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers on a three-year contract worth $66 million, according to NFL.com.
Bridgewater was initially drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In just his second season with the Vikings, Bridgewater earned Pro Bowl honors after leading his team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.
Tragedy struck for Bridgewater during the following preseason, as he suffered a non-contact ACL injury in practice that would ultimately sideline him for one year and four months, according to NFL.com.
After a brief tenure with the New York Jets, Bridgewater was traded to New Orleans in August of 2018. There, he served as the backup to future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees.
In 2019, Bridgewater once again proved himself as a starting quarterback. After Brees suffered an injury in September, the backup excelled in his absence. In five consecutive starts, Bridgewater led the Saints to a 5-0 record with 1,384 passing yards and nine touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference.
Now in his sixth year in the NFL, Bridgewater will be accompanied by Joe Brady, a young offensive coordinator with an innovative system and impressive track record.
At just 30 years old, Joe Brady has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative coaches in football. Starting in 2017, he worked for two years as an offensive assistant for the Saints.
The following season, Joe Brady left New Orleans for Baton Rouge to take over as passing coordinator for Louisiana State University. Under Joe Brady’s new offensive system, the 2019 LSU Tigers deployed a deadly passing attack, ranking first in the FBS in scoring offense, according to NCAA.com.
Bridgewater’s skill set should fit nicely in the new offensive scheme, which is predicated on efficiency. With the Saints in 2019, Bridgewater maintained a completion percentage of 67.9 — the sixth-highest among NFL quarterbacks.
With a quick release and pinpoint accuracy, Bridgewater efficiently distributes the ball to playmakers in the flat before defenses have time to adjust.
This season, Joe Brady will adapt his system to pair the skills of Bridgewater with those of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey totaled over 1,000 receiving yards in 2019, according to Pro Football Reference.
After an up-and-down start to his NFL career, Bridgewater has earned a second chance as a starter. With the help of Carolina’s offensive weapons and young coaching staff, the quarterback will excel in his new situation.
Disclaimer: All arguments in the Sentinel’s sports editorials belong to the writer and do not reflect the intentions or beliefs of the Sentinel, editorial staff, Kennesaw State University or KSU Athletics.