Matt Rhule: Not all QB speculation is true for Panthers

The Carolina Panthers can get better at quarterback in 2021.

The quickest way to do so would be by swinging a deal for a star, like Houston's Deshaun Watson. A more realistic path might end up being in next month's draft. And either route would likely require moving on from Teddy Bridgewater, who coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday "knows the business."

Rhule is presented with this treacherous, yet potentially prosperous lava pit as we near the midpoint of March. He's doing a solid job of hopping from stone to stone as his team's front office attempts to turn them over in search of an answer.

"This is the time of year where there's lot of rumors and speculation," Rhule said. "Not all of it is true. ... Teddy's a tremendous professional and Teddy's a tremendous person. I can't speak for him; I think he's controlling what he can control. He's having a great offseason, I'm sure. I can't wait to get him back here. And I think he's determined to play his best football next year.

"As far as where he stands with us, he's our quarterback. Nothing's changed since the end of the season. ... We're going to continue to try to improve the roster at every position through free agency, through the draft and also through development."

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer told reporters Wednesday that team brass previously met with Bridgewater and divulged that the QB was made available in talks with one team. Still, Fitterer made it clear that he still has faith in the seven-year vet.

"Teddy is our quarterback ... he's a total pro," Fitterer said.

Improvements can be had in a number of areas, but quarterback is the most important. Carolina had the makings of a competitive team that was just a year or two away from reliable contention, and a good chunk of that had to do with its quarterback play and how it could improve.

As we mentioned, there are multiple avenues. Currently seated at eighth in the 2021 NFL Draft order, the Panthers have a chance to grab a signal-caller of the future -- especially considering only three teams (or four, if other parts move elsewhere) ahead of them are realistically looking at taking a quarterback. But Carolina could also stun the football world by acquiring Watson in what would be a blockbuster deal of incredible proportions.

The Panthers will do their research no matter what, maintaining a presence at the many pro days featuring prospects who could go in the top 10 of the draft. And if none of these efforts produce a new quarterback, Rhule likes who he has in Bridgewater.

"No matter what we throw at Teddy, there's not a better guy on this team than Teddy Bridgewater," Rhule said. "So I think I have no concerns about anything charter-wise with him at all at one bit, with anything that happens. To me, he's a guy that wants to pay his best football next year and is training to do so."

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