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INDIANAPOLIS – Decisions are needed from both parties, and those will be made in the next month.

That’s the first part of the most important decision the Colts face in this critical 2021 offseason.

When Chris Ballard and Philip Rivers spoke for an hour last week, the two parties quickly realized that neither was all-in on teaming up together in 2021.

That could be the final answer, but time is necessary for both sides to reflect on things.

For Rivers, he must decide that he is all-in on playing an 18th NFL season, one in which he would turn 40 years old during it.

“Philip has to figure out if he still wants to play,” Ballard says.

The GM added this from the two’s conversation last week: “(Rivers) told me, ‘Chris, I’m not 100 percent sure.’ Well, you need to be 100 percent sure.”

For Ballard, the GM has to do his own homework, with the help from others on staff, to see what the remaining quarterback options are for 2021, and potentially beyond. Ballard said he wouldn’t be fulfilling his own job duties if he didn’t do homework on a possible change. The reason for that isn’t for a lack of belief in Rivers’ skill, Ballard says, it has to do with his age (turns 40 years old in December). If the Colts believe they can find a better/younger option, they will explore.

One year after the Colts signed Rivers for $25 million and traded the No. 13 overall pick for DT-DeForest Buckner, Ballard does not feel pressure when hearing the ‘win now’ tag.

Ballard is adamant that he thinks Rivers is a ‘winning quarterback’ that can get the Colts to the Super Bowl, and win that game. Ballard said if Rivers was 30, or even 35, years old, this would not be a debate on the Colts’ end. They would definitely want him back.

“That’s a good thing,” Ballard says of not feeling the win now pressure. “If you think back to my initial presser, I said it’s never going to be about one guy. I get the importance of the quarterback position. I don’t want anyone to think I don’t. But it’s got to be about the team. I think we’ve done a good job building a good football team in all three areas. And that’s a positive thing because I would like to think that we are just not going to all of a sudden be bad.”

As Ballard talks about the long-term view, he doesn’t lose sight of the lingering quarterback question that remains, no matter what happens with Rivers this offseason.

“We all know the quarterback stirs the drink (and) having that position settled for long-term success is going to be very important for us,” Ballard says.

For now, it’s Rivers sitting down with his wife and children to see if that high school football head coaching job in Alabama will have to wait another season (with his oldest son still two years away from high school).

And at the Colts complex, it’s the likes of Ballard, Frank Reich, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady looking into all the quarterbacks who could be acquired. That includes studying the 2021 Draft QB Class, one that Ballard calls “a good class,” while also acknowledging a little luck is needed to be selecting a high-end signal caller at No. 21 overall.

Free agency begins March 17th.

Round 1 of the NFL Draft is April 29th.

Before those deadlines occur, it’s time for to Rivers to figure out if he wants to play again. And if the Colts can find another better/younger) option than Uncle Phil.

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