INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts offseason isn’t even two weeks old and they now must replace starters at arguably the two most important positions on the football team.
Even if Philip Rivers had decided to play one more season, the Colts still would have faced several decisions at quarterback. But with Rivers now retired, things are a bit more pressing in the immediacy.
What are the questions the Colts now face at quarterback this offseason?
1. Do the Colts now need to bring back Jacoby Brissett?
Well, those in Vegas currently have Brissett as the 2021 Week 1 favorite to start at QB for the Colts.
Brissett, 28, is a free agent this offseason for the first time in his NFL career.
Before Philip Rivers retired, Chris Ballard said this about Brissett’s uncertain future in Indy: “I don’t want to discount Jacoby. We still like Jacoby Brissett. We think he’s a good player. So, let’s not completely take Jacoby out of the mix here.”
Under Ballard, the Colts have turned to Brissett twice as their starter—Week 2 of the 2017 season and to start the 2019 season.
-Would they do that for a 3rd time?
-Would they let Brisset, who is a career 59 percent passer, compete with another guy for the job?
-What about Brissett in a backup role?
For Brissett himself, he seems very keen on seeking out an opportunity that lets him have the best chance at being a starter.
2. Is Jacob Eason about to take on a bigger 2021 role?
Before the retirement of Rivers, the Colts seemed pleased with Eason’s first year in the NFL, but weren’t ready to hand him the backup job in 2021.
“I’m not ready to say I’m comfortable with it enough,” Ballard said when asked if he’d be comfortable with Eason being the Colts backup in his second NFL season.
Eason didn’t dress for a single game as a rookie and only seriously participated in team practices about a half dozen of times (all on the scout team).
Wednesday’s news though has to increase his odds to be in competition for some role in 2021. Ballard actually had some encouraging things to say about how Eason handled the professionalism it takes to be a quarterback this past season.
But the live reps, with the red jersey off, never came. And it’s impossible to completely evaluate Eason until he experiences those in the NFL.
Eason starting in 2021 has to be an extreme long shot, right? Eason as the team’s backup though is more realistic.
3. Does the quarterback position become more realistic for the Colts in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft?
This has to be the case, even if we were only talking about the Colts having a 39-year-old quarterback in Philip Rivers for the 2021 season.
Ballard has cautioned that he is not just going to take a QB early in a draft just to say he did it. And he knows that expecting one to fall to No. 21 overall is not likely.
But Ballard does like this group of ’21 quarterbacks coming out. We should mention, Ballard was a key part in Kansas City’s early scouting identification of Patrick Mahomes. In 2017, the Chiefs traded up from the 27th pick to the 10th spot to then select the eventual MVP.
Asking the Colts to trade all the way up into the top-5 might seem steep. And that’s okay, when you look at where the likes of Josh Allen (7th overall), Mahomes (10th overall) and Deshaun Watson (12th overall) were taken.
What the Colts do in free agency at quarterback, or on the trade market, will show their hand a bit in regards to the desperation there to draft a QB.
4. Should the Colts explore free agency to find their 2021 starter at quarterback?
The names carry varying background and resumes.
Dak Prescott? Mitchell Trubisky? Ryan Fitzpatrick? Tyrod Taylor? Andy Dalton? Cam Newton? Jameis Winston?
With $46 million from last season coming off the books at quarterback, the Colts definitely have some money to re-distribute at the most important position in sports.
Do the all the contract decisions with the Colts + their own free agents, future contract extensions and the need at left tackle, mean a FA quarterback is less likely?
The Colts are busying sifting through the quarterback free agency class, with the official new league year starting on March 18th.
5. What are the quarterback options on the trade market?
With Brissett in 2017, the Colts made a trade for a QB just days before the start of the season and then needed him to start by Week Two.
The QB names being thrown around as possible trade options include Matthew Stafford, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and Derek Carr.
While this list might offer some more intrigue than the free agent names above, it’s going to take much more than that to actually acquire them.
That means some draft capital, plus absorbing a contract of substance. Are the Colts ready to do that?
Committing to a trade means this guy is in all likelihood the guy for your franchise for several seasons, if not more.
6. What’s the next big domino quarterback coming this offseason?
With Philip Rivers retired and Drew Brees probably headed to the broadcast booth, free agent Dak Prescott moves to the forefront of the QB news.
Will the Cowboys and Prescott be able to reach a long-term extension, thus taking the best long-term FA quarterback off the market? That seems to be the case.
Following Prescott, it will probably be quiet for several weeks on the QB front.
Perhaps some public backing from various front offices around the league will leak out, but any true action could be on hold until early-to-mid March.
Remember, the Colts have been involved with two major Round 1 trades under Chris Ballard. Both came at the start of free agency (March 17, 2018 when trading back with the Jets; March 16, 2020 when trading No. 13 overall for DeForest Buckner).
7. What’s the best way to fill two of the most important positions on the football team?
The 2021 NFL offseason for the Colts is not even two weeks old and Chris Ballard has a gaping hole at quarterback and left tackle.
Both need short-term, and long-term fixes, with the Colts still having another 7-8 starters hitting free agency this offseason.
With how hand-in-hand quarterback and left tackle can be, these two will inevitably get tons of attention this offseason.
Does it make more sense to pair a veteran left tackle with a younger quarterback? Should that be flipped?
Do the Colts think both can be addressed during the draft?
Will both spots be filled this offseason?