INDIANAPOLIS – We always knew the actions of the Colts would ultimately be the defining answer on what they really think about the potential of Jacoby Brissett.
The Colts do like Brissett, but the days of touting him as a top-20 quarterback in this league are over.
And we saw the Colts decide to end Brissett’s short reign as the starting quarterback in Indianapolis, when they signed the 38-year-old Philip Rivers to a one-year deal on Tuesday.
What does that mean for Brissett, 27, who is entering the final year of his contract?
Here’s a look at the options the Colts have with Brissett:
1. Trade Brissett (cap savings $15.8 million)
Without a doubt, this would be the best route for the Colts, if the goal is to get some return on Brissett, while also achieving the most in cap savings.
Now, we should mention that potential draft pick compensation coming in return for Brissett isn’t expected to be a whole lot.
Even when the Colts had more leverage with Brissett, trade offers were not overwhelming. Plus, opposing teams knows that the Colts are backed into a corner if they were to keep Brissett as a backup making an absurd number for a No. 2 QB (see more below).
Could the Colts coup a middle-ish round pick in exchange for Brissett? Maybe the Saints, Chargers, Patriots, Jaguars or Steelers would have interest in Brissett, with other quarterback needy teams still sifting through options.
That would be a dream, if the look is to move him and reap the most in return.
2. Cut Brissett (cap savings $8.8 million)
No matter when the Colts cut Brissett this offseason, they will save $8.8 million in cap savings.
A couple of reasons why this might be the route for the Colts. For one, it could be difficult to find a willing trade partner ready to absorb that contract. Secondly, the Colts do really like Brissett and have always mentioned wanting to find a good situation for him, if they were to move on.
“It would have to be right organizationally, and for him,” Ballard said back in January 2019 when asked about possibly trading Brissett (when Andrew Luck was still playing football). “I want to do the right thing for the player, too, now. I want to do the right thing for Jacoby.”
Again, in an ideal world, the Colts would get some return on Brissett and could find a trade partner. But if the Colts are looking out for Brissett, cutting him—thus putting him on the open market—would allow for him to choose his next NFL stop.
Cutting Brissett would commit to the Colts having a drafted quarterback be their backup in 2020…or Brian Hoyer (under contract for two more years) or Chad Kelly (under contract for one more year).
Moving on from the 34-year-old Hoyer would save $5 million.
3. Keep Brissett
Simply, the longer the Colts hold onto Brissett the more his value dwindles, and it’s already dropped significantly in the past few days.
If the Colts want to see how the draft plays out before making a final move on Brissett, they could certainly do that.
One would have to think any draft pick at quarterback in the first three rounds (the Colts still have two second-round picks and one third-round pick), means that guy could be the backup to Rivers.
Needing some major investment at backup QB isn’t too necessary with Rivers, considering he’s started 224 straight games.
But maybe the Colts want to ride out the final year of Brissett’s 2-year, $30 million deal that he signed last August? Or what if the Colts want to retain Brissett and look into another contract for him next offseason?
That seems unlikely though considering how everything has played out for the Colts this week, and the message that has been sent to Brissett.
If Brissett remains with the Colts in 2020, his cap hit will be a total of $21.3 million (the 13th most for any NFL quarterback in 2020), an eye-popping number for a non-starter.
With more than $20 million already tied up in Rivers, and the need still to commit some draft resource to a long-term quarterback, it’s hard to see the Colts retaining Brissett and using up a huge chunk of the cap at quarterback, with still no answer under center past the 2020 season.