As you know by now the Indianapolis Colts pulled the plug on the Carson Wentz Experiment and sent him to the Washington Commanders. What we don’t know is who is actually going to be under center for the Colts when the regular season kicks off in September. There are plenty of options whether it be via free agency, which starts next week, a potential trade and there’s the NFL Draft. There are plenty of avenues for the Colts to look to in order to pursue a quarterback but are any of them viable long-term options? If the Colts could get the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo or Kirk Cousins or Jordan Love or Baker Mayfield via trade does anyone really feel that much better about the long-term solution at quarterback? And what would those guys cost you in terms of draft picks (which the Colts are already without a first-round pick in 2022) and taking on salary? Yes, the Colts have a lot of salary cap space at the moment but where has throwing money at the quarterback position gotten the Colts the last couple of years? One year stops for Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz.
I’m no Chris Ballard, Frank Reich or Jim Irsay but if I’m looking around at the quarterback landscape and look at all the holes on my roster and decide to use the over $70 million in cap space I have and invest it in positions other than quarterback. You might be reading this and asking aloud “Isn’t quarterback the most important position in sports?” and it is. But have you looked at the number of holes on this roster? Even before the news that Eric Fisher wasn’t expected to be back there was no answer at left tackle. Now it’s even exacerbated even more. The wide receiver group is one of the worst in the NFL and without a true No. 1. option. Jack Doyle has retired and the Colts could use a more dynamic option than Mo Alie-Cox or Kylen Granson to catch passes. That’s just on the offensive side and not even taking into consideration defensive line or secondary issues or who is even going to be the placekicker. It’s an impossible laundry list for Chris Ballad and company to try and get everything checked off in one off-season which is why I think they should think outside the box and try to check as many boxes as possible this off-season and worry about quarterback in 2023. It sounds crazy but it might be the best option for the Colts to find a long-term solution at the position going forward.
Hear me out:
Take a look at the free agent quarterback list. Do any of those guys give Colts fans Super Bowl aspirations? Mitch Trubisky, a guy who went a grand total of 6-for-8 for 43 yards and an interception throughout the entire 2021 regular season, could realistically net a contract north of $10 million per season in this free agent market. That should tell you how woeful the free agent prospects are. Other options on the free agent market are Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, etc. Not a one of them should be starting quarterbacks on teams with actual championship aspirations in 2022.
The draft looks like a crapshoot more than ever when it comes to quarterbacks. Usually the most coveted position to draft, this year’s early mock drafts have the first quarterback getting selected in the mid-to-late teens. Whether it’s Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis or Matt Corral, none of them scream “gotta grab him” if he falls down the draft board. Despite the unknown quarterback potential in the draft, this is definitely the safest route for the Colts as well as the most cost-effective.
My thought process is to use the salary cap space you have (at last check the Colts have a league-best $70.5 million available) and you spend like you’ve never spent before if you’re Chris Ballard. Get a left tackle, sign a true difference-making wide receiver or two, get a tight end, help out your pass rush and secondary. Build a team that is a quarterback away from contending. Worry about quarterback in 2023. There are no true solutions readily available barring a trade for Derek Carr, which would call into question what exactly Josh McDaniels is doing in Las Vegas or the extremely unlikely scenario that Deshaun Watson is not only cleared of all wrongdoing that kept him out all of last season but that the Houston Texans would then trade him within the division.
It sounds like a wild idea to try to address everything but quarterback but even if the Colts go out and spend big on a free agent like Jameis Winston or Mitch Trubisky or Marcus Mariota does that in any way change their standing in the loaded AFC? None of those guys are putting you into the AFC Championship conversation and it may not even net you a playoff spot. Maybe they’ll sign one of those guys and we’ll have another stopgap at quarterback for another season. My hope is they throw a dart in the draft and hope for the best while overhauling the roster everywhere else via smart free agency signings and true playmakers and then attack the QB position in 2023. It’s not going to be the most popular option but it could be the one that has the best long-term viability for the Colts.
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