INDIANAPOLIS – It was an opportunity to change the clear tone they had given off in the raw emotions of the embarrassing end to the 2021 season.
Instead, the Colts didn’t play the game of trying to build up any potential trade value for Carson Wentz. And they didn’t flip the script in deciding to publicly back the guy they gave up a 1st and 3rd round draft pick for last year.
Two weeks removed from needing to make a decision on Carson Wentz—and nearly two months removed from the season ending—the Colts remain noncommittal to their supposed franchise quarterback.
That’s pretty darn telling.
“We are still working through it,” Chris Ballard said of the 2022 QB decision, when meeting the media on Tuesday afternoon at the NFL Combine. “I know I’m going to get a lot of questions on Carson right now. I don’t have a direct answer for you. We are working through it, Jim (Irsay), Frank (Reich) and I will sit down over the next 10 days and figure out where it’s going. Ultimately, we will do what’s best for the Colts in the short term and the long term.”
Contractually, the 29-year-old Wentz is under team control for three more seasons. If the Colts want to get out of that deal, they could cut or trade Wentz by March 18th. Doing that would still cost the team the $15 million Wentz is guaranteed, before the QB is due another $13 million on the 18th, two days after the new league year has begun.
Ballard met with Wentz on Tuesday for around an hour, as the Colts inch closer to deciding whether or not another change at quarterback is needed.
A few hours after that meeting at the Colts team complex, Ballard was downtown at the Combine getting asked about the traits he seeks out in a quarterback.
The GM first mentioned accuracy. Wentz ended last season 25th in completion percentage (62.4%).
Ballard then referenced leadership, a word that the Colts threw around quite often with Jacoby Brissett. That word has hardly come up with the Colts brass this offseason when discussing Wentz.
Making the crucial plays to win was the third item Ballard mentioned. Well, Ballard was irate the Colts finished 2-5 in one-possession games this past season, with Wentz’s passer rating and efficiency taking massive dips as the second half of games reached the final quarter.
As has been the case all along, it’s clear that 1 of the 3 Colts decision makers in this process carries the most conviction in Wentz.
That would be Reich.
“I know I believe in Carson, I believe in him,” the head coach said on Tuesday. “I stuck my neck out for him last year. I was a big part of that decision to get him here and so I believe he’s going to continue to have a lot of success at quarterback – that might be here, it might not be here.
“That decision has yet to be determined, but I still believe in the person and I still believe in the player.”
Even though Reich goes there, he also acknowledges the very real possibility of Irsay and Ballard wanting to move on at quarterback.
When Ballard was asked on Tuesday if the price tag the Colts paid for Wentz (a 1st and 3rd round pick) would impact their pending decision to break ties with him, the GM said it wouldn’t. Ballard also added that a drier quarterback market in free agency and the draft this offseason won’t play a huge role in making the final call on Wentz for 2022.
Like many Colts fans, Ballard admits he wonders when the long-term answer will be there at the quarterback position.
“It’s a very fair question and one I think about it all the time,” Ballard says. “It also comes from a measured place of, ‘You’ve got to be right. You have to be right.’ And even if you aren’t right all the time, that’s the one position that you have to keep firing away until you get it right.”
Didn’t the Colts ‘fire’ pretty big at QB last year though?
“Yeah,” the GM added, “but we have to get it right.”
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