NFL rumors: Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater finalizing free agent contract

NFL rumors: Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater finalizing free agent contract

It doesn't look like Teddy Bridgewater is an option for the New England Patriots in NFL free agency.

The 27-year-old quarterback and the Carolina Panthers are finalizing a contract, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

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ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the two sides "are negotiating a 3-year contract in the $60 million range, per source." His ESPN colleague, Adam Schefter, provided some important context to the situation. 

Bridgewater was an intriguing option for the Patriots after Tom Brady announced Tuesday that he's leaving New England as a free agent. Bridgewater went 5-0 for the New Orleans Saints last season while starting QB Drew Brees was out with an injury. He's also one of the most accurate quarterbacks who entered free agency.

The Panthers announced Tuesday they were allowing longtime starting quarterback Cam Newton to seek a trade. Newton is a former NFL MVP and a very good quarterback, but staying healthy hasn't been easy for him over the last few years. His injury history should be a concern for any teams interested in acquiring him via trade.

Right now, the Patriots just have Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler on their quarterback depth chart. It's still possible the Patriots could add a veteran in free agency or the trade market, but some of the best options have come off the board in the last 24 hours.


Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami (FL). He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel and Myles Bryant.

UPDATE (6 p.m. ET): The Patriots are sending a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to Detroit in exchange for Jackson, per the NFL's transaction wire.

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.