For about a week, the rumor mill surrounding the Minnesota Vikings and its long-term quarterback strategy has silenced. In February, current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was supposed to be traded to the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, or even the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson.
None of that happened as the definition of the term rumor, well, lived up to its definition.
Minnesota will enter the pivotal 2021 season with Cousins at the helm, barring something very strange. But that doesn’t mean that former Vikings signal-callers are above the fray of quarterback-trade hopscotch.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater now slides into the front seat of trade rumors, at least for a moment. Carolina, under new management, is poised to move on from the 28-year-old Bridgewater in favor of a passer who is either younger, more dynamic – or both.
So, here is the latest. Bridgewater’s juicy new 2020 rumor-based home is the San Francisco 49ers.
Independent NFL reporter, Dov Kleiman, spitballs that Bridgewater may be heading westward. The 49ers have been semi-committal to Jimmy Garoppolo as of late, but in the realm of quarterback roster turnover, that affirmation is flimsy.
What would Bridgewater to the 49ers look like? It’s interpretive.
Rejuvenation or Patchover?
The Panthers have the 8th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft – thanks to an underwhelming 2020 season in which Bridgewater largely played a role. That spot in April’s draft is prime territory to move-and-shake a tad and seize a quarterback of the future. And, that is probably what Carolina will do. Otherwise, the franchise would stick with Bridgewater or trade for another veteran.
The 49ers, on the other hand, are more mysterious. There is sentiment that the team does not love Garoppolo (and this is probably why Cousins-to-49ers was born a month ago). If they swing a deal for Bridgewater, would they start him as the bonafide QB1? Maybe – with a quick exit strategy.
Bridgewater accounted for 20 total touchdowns to 14 interceptions/fumbles-lost in 2020. If a team has a ferocious defense and franchise-altering halfback, this statline might do the trick. But the Panthers had nothing of the sort during the pandemic season.
San Francisco hosting Bridgewater feels like a one-season audition to determine if head coach Kyle Shanahan can revitalize Bridgewater. That probably will not materialize, as Bridgewater has never been a prolific passer of the football.
Should the 49ers acquire Bridgewater, count on it as a dependent plan likely involving an additional younger quarterback.
All of this 49ers-related chatter exists because Jimmy Garoppolo’s health cannot be trusted. He has started just one full season in his career, and that was 2019 (when San Francisco reached the Super Bowl). In 2018, Garoppolo played in three games – one of them a loss to the Vikings in Week 1. Then during 2020, he partook in six games.
He is not a bastion of health, and the 49ers are losing patience. That’s why deals for current and former Vikings quarterbacks are tickling trade dialogues. General Manager John Lynch desires a more reliable commodity at the game’s most important position despite the warm-fuzzy statements he offers to the media.
Bridgewater would merely be something different. He is not perceived by most as a better quarterback than Garoppolo when both players are healthy. But somehow – believe it or not – Bridgewater may be a healthier quarterback than the oft-injured Garoppolo. And that’s pretty neat for a player that almost lost his leg to amputation in 2016.
The Goofy Vikings Theory
Of course, there must be some conspiracy that ties back to the Vikings. It wouldn’t be the offseason without such foolishness.
Some theorize that Bridgewater’s adventure to the 49ers would be short-lived as he would immediately be dangled as tradebait to the Vikings. That is – a variation of Bridgewater-for-Cousins would develop. Just like that – head coach Mike Zimmer would have his beloved Bridgewater back in the saddle.
That theory would be fine and dandy if Bridgewater was still 23 years old holding limitless potential. Once upon a time, that was his prognosis. But not anymore.
Bridgewater is a decent quarterback barreling toward his 30s – and one that throws about 15 touchdowns per season. There was a time not long ago when the Vikings could trudge forward with limited quarterback production, but those days are gone. Cousins has established a standard of 30+ touchdowns per season and Zimmer’s defense is not quite as good now as that of the Bridgewater days.
The franchise would morph into backward-thinkers, so it ain’t happening.