The 2021 NFL Draft begins with the first round Thursday night, and a trade reportedly made between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos on Wednesday has the potential to impact the top 10 in a few ways.
The Panthers are trading veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Broncos for a sixth-round pick, according to NFL Media's Tom Pelissero.
How does this deal impact the New England Patriots? Let's look at a few items.
The Panthers, even without Bridgewater, still don't need to take a quarterback with their No. 8 overall pick in the first round. Carolina acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets earlier in the offseason, and if all goes well, he might be the Panthers' starter for a long time.
So, the Panthers are still a potential trade partner for the Patriots if New England wants to move up for a quarterback. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported Tuesday that the Patriots and Panthers have done "some groundwork" on what a deal involving the No. 8 pick "might look like."
Where do the Broncos fit in? Well, they have plenty of options with the No. 9 pick. They could dangle it to a team like the Patriots that might be looking to move up. They could stay and draft a different position, too. Another option is drafting a quarterback (either at No. 9 or by moving up) and trading 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock to a QB-needy team.
If the Patriots want to trade up, especially if one of the top five quarterbacks in this class slides down the bottom half of the top 10, there could be a few trade partners.
The Detroit Lions (No. 7 pick), Panthers (No. 8 pick) and Broncos (No. 9 pick) all have acquired a veteran QB this offseason. This fact doesn't preclude these teams from still taking a quarterback in Round 1, it just doesn't seem likely.
Our Patriots insider Phil Perry also noted on Twitter how this Bridgewater trade impacts the Jimmy Garoppolo market and where New England might fit in that.
The quarterback market, both through the draft and via trade, should provide plenty of excitement Thursday before and during the first round.