Wed Apr 8 4:20pm ET
By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater warms up before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) First-year head coach Matt Rhule said Teddy Bridgewater’s familiarity with the team’s offensive scheme made him the “right fit” at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and ultimately
Bridgewater spent the 2018 season working under new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady with the New Orleans Saints and the two developed
“His relationship with Joe, knowing the offense, the things that he has done in this offense just made sense to us,” Rhule said.
Rhule didn't directly answer whether Newton's history of shoulder and foot injuries played a role in the decision.
Rhule called Newton a “great quarterback who can play in any system," but added that Bridgewater's built-in knowledge of Brady's playbook - one that helped LSU win a national championship last season - will be helpful for the Panthers in what is expected to be a dramatically shortened offseason because of the
and the need for social distancing.
The Panthers are one of five teams that hired new coaches and were slated to begin a “virtual” offseason workout program Monday, but the league decided
until more details can be worked out.
"In a year like this especially where we are all in our homes, I think Teddy is a guy who has been in this offense, knows this offense and had great familiarity with Joe,” Rhule said. “It just made sense to us.”
Newton is a free agent for the first time in his nine-year NFL career, and recently said he feels like a
There has been no indication where he might play this season.
Rhule called the decision to release Newton, the Panthers' No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, a difficult one. He said he developed incredible respect for the 2015 league MVP in the brief time he spent with him this offseason.
“I have no doubt that he will play well,” Rhule said of Newton. “He is a great quarterback and we have all seen the things that he has done. I just think as we move forward we thought this was the right time for us. We saw the opportunity to get Teddy and really felt like he was the right fit for us."
While the Panthers gave Bridegwater
, Rhule added the team wouldn't rule out drafting a quarterback.
The Panthers have the seventh overall pick in the draft.
“I don’t know if that’s our focus right now, a first-round quarterback, but at the end of the day if a guy drops in your lap that you think, at any position, you think can change your team. ..." Rhule said.
"When you draft you’re not drafting for the next 12 months, you’re drafting for the next four to five to six years, and hopefully on.’’
Rhule also said:
- The Panthers' biggest area of need entering the NFL draft is adding depth on the defense.
- He was thrilled to
, someone the team had targeted since day one of the offseason.
- He hasn't decided if Shaq Thompson or free agent pickup Tahir Whitehead from the Raiders will play middle linebacker. He feels as if both have the flexibility to play that position in what he views will be a “position-less” defense.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said that wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) is "fully healthy" and has been working out in Atlanta. It's good news after Green missed the entire 2019 season. He's scheduled to make around $18 million in 2020 on the franchise tag, but we may not get to see him until later this summer due to restrictions amid the coronavirus. Green will turn 32 in July and has played in just nine games in the last two seasons due to injuries. But he was a Pro Bowler each of his first seven seasons in the league from 2011 to 2017, surpassing the 1,000-yard receiving mark six times. He'll likely have rookie quarterback Joe Burrow throwing him passes in 2020, which could make fantasy owners even more hesitant to draft Green as even a WR2.
The Los Angeles Chargers remain "very high on" running back Justin Jackson. Melvin Gordon is now playing for the Broncos, so there will be more opportunity for Jackson behind Austin Ekeler moving forward. Jackson, a seventh-round pick by the Bolts in 2018, has rushed 79 times for 406 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns in his 20 games (one start) in two seasons for the Chargers. The soon-to-be 25-year-old also has 24 catches for 157 yards in his two years in the league. Ekeler should take over workhorse duties in this backfield with Gordon gone, but Jackson will have a role as a change-of-pace back and could be a great value pick late in fantasy drafts this fall.
There's a chance that the Los Angeles Chargers look to trade cornerback Desmond King. King is seemingly a man without a position now that the Bolts signed Chris Harris Jr. to defend the slot in the middle of the field in 2020. Casey Hayward and Michael Davis can work on the outside, so it remains to be seen what the team will do with King if they hold onto him. The 25-year-old fifth-round pick in 2017 was a first-team All-Pro in 2018 when he had a career-high three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown). King had 51 tackles (40 solo) and two passes defensed without an interception in 15 games (eight starts) in 2019. He could be part of a draft-day trade if the Chargers indeed move him.
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines is expected to get "plenty more action" in the offense this season, in the opinion of The Athletic's Zak Keefer. And that could translate into much more fantasy success with new quarterback Philip Rivers under center, a veteran signal-caller who isn't afraid to dump the ball off to his pass-catching backs. Hines, 23, ran the ball just 52 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns behind Marlon Mack in 2019, adding 44 receptions for 320 yards. Both his rushing and receiving marks were down from his rookie season in 2018 when he was playing with Andrew Luck. With an offense that should attack more under Rivers, Hines could be a nice PPR sleeper late in drafts.
The Cincinnati Bengals have high expectations for tight end Drew Sample to take a "significant jump" in his second year with the team, especially with Tyler Eifert no longer in town. Sample caught just five passes on six targets for 30 yards in nine games (two starts) in his rookie season and he was drafted as mostly a blocking tight end. C.J. Uzomah will be the team's primary pass-catcher at the position, but Sample will inevitably see more snaps on offense and should see his offensive numbers take a sizeable rise over his rookie season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old former second-round pick could become interesting in dynasty/keeper leagues with the Bengals expected to take LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick later this month.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler had an 85.2 percent catch percentage last season, which was the best rate of anyone with 45 receptions.
Fantasy Spin: Ekeler had just one drop and 92 grabs for 993 yards. He rushed 132 times for 557 yards (4.2 yards per carry) as well, and with Melvin Gordon gone, he should remain one of the top five backs in PPR.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr has seen his teammates drop 216 passes over the course of his six-year career - the most drops a quarterback has witnessed over that span.
Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup was charged with 11 drops in 2019 - the second-highest total in the league.
New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray averaged 2.7 yards before contact per rushing attempt in 2019 - tied for the sixth-best average among qualified rushers last season.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle was charged with only two drops on 107 targets in 2019. He was one of only five players in the league with at least 100 targets - regardless of position - to finish with a drop rate below two percent.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller was credited with eight broken tackles on his 90 catches in 2019 - tied with George Kittle for the second-highest total among tight ends.
Denver Broncos LB Von Miller has forced 640 quarterback pressures over the past decade, which are 40 more than any other player within that time.
Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Cody Latimer (Giants) officially signed an undisclosed contract with the Washington Redskins Tuesday, April 7.
Fantasy Spin: Latimer set career-highs with 24 receptions and 300 yards with the New York Giants in 2019. He has a viable path to a notable role within the Washington offense and could become a streaming option by mid-season.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DB P.J. Williams (Saints) officially signed an undisclosed contract with the New Orleans Saints Tuesday, April 7.
Updating a previous story, Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Bell officially signed Tuesday, April 7. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DB Damarious Randall (Browns) officially signed with the Las Vegas Tuesday, April 7. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Updating a previous story, free-agent LB Reggie Ragland (Chiefs) officially signed with the Detroit Lions Tuesday, April 7. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Bears) officially signed with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, April 7. Official terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins has yet to take his physical with the team, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday, April 7, he has 'no doubt' the deal will get done before the 2020 NFL Draft (April 23).
Fantasy Spin: If the deal were to somehow fall through within the next two weeks, the Cardinals would be likely to target one of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs with their No. 8 overall pick. Of course, Hopkins would fill the Cards' need for a No. 1 receiver once the trade is finalized once and for all.
Free-agent LB Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) isn't like to re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network Tuesday, April 7. 'I don't know if he's going to be back in Seattle. The chances are slim to none,' Garafolo said.