The Colts have approached free agency at a snail’s pace. They’ve signed a few of their own in-house free agents and picked up former Raiders cornerback Brandon Facyson but have yet to throw any big money at any of their many holes on the roster. Their trade for pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue was a much needed boost to the defense but the real needs are on the offense. When it comes to quarterback, it seems they seem content playing the waiting game as the dominos continue to fall around the league. Jimmy Garoppolo, Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield all have question marks surrounding them and their status on their current teams.
The 49ers seemed poised to be making a decision on Garoppolo with Wednesday’s salary cap deadline but after restructuring contracts of George Kittle and Arik Armstead, they seemingly bought themselves some time to test the trade market a little while longer when it comes to Jimmy G. Watson seems as good as gone as Houston is shopping him between the Saints, Panthers, Browns and Falcons while Mayfield is the latest potential QB on the move as Cleveland has reportedly inquired about Watson.
We already know Watson is not coming to the Colts. That’s the least surprising news of the week. Garoppolo seems like a lateral move to Carson Wentz and given his injury history, isn’t the most durable. Same with Mayfield. Not only do both guys not seem like major upgrades over Wentz, they’ll also cost the Colts even more future draft capital but you’ll also have to sign them to long-term, big money contracts. Call me crazy but that’s not a road I want to see the Colts go down once again. I think there’s a viable short-term solution if chips fall a certain way. And that would be if the Colts can somehow land Matt Ryan from the Falcons.
It’ll take some dominos to fall but the Falcons have reportedly been one of the teams to check in on what it would cost to land Watson from the Texans. So clearly, they are open to moving off of the soon-to-be 37-year old quarterback. The Falcons are going through a transition phase as it is, having already waved goodbye to Julio Jones last season and with Calvin Ridley suspended for the entire upcoming season the primary receiver on the team looks to be second-year tight end Kyle Pitts. Should the Falcons land Watson in a blockbuster trade they would have to move off of Ryan and his over $48 million dollar salary next season. Yes, that’s a monstrous salary for next season, it also carries a dead cap hit of $40.5 million.
So why should the Colts even entertain the thought? Because looking at the current quarterback landscape Matt Ryan offers you the best chance to stay in the conversation in a completely stacked AFC. Is he the most mobile guy in the world? No. You may as well consider him Philip Rivers lite in that department. But he still has a great arm and is accurate downfield. Last season was a little bit of a down one for Ryan: just under 4,000 yards passing, 20 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions, a QB rating of 90.4 and a completion percentage just over 61. Given he was without Ridley the majority of the season these aren’t hard to believe statistics. And yes, the Colts as currently constructed have no one near the capabilities of Ridley or Pitts on their roster. That would all have to change. But if the Colts want to consider themselves contenders next season they should seriously consider Matt Ryan if he becomes available. He’s a veteran QB who has seen it all and still has years left on his plate.
Acquiring him would not fool anyone into thinking the Colts have their long-term answer at QB but he would not only keep them in the contending window owner Jim Irsay very much wants them to be in, but he offers them some much needed time to figure out their long-term solution at the most important position in sports. If the Colts decide to go the free agent route then Jameis Winston is my pick. He offers a high-risk/high reward factor and is coming off of an injury but he wouldn’t cost anything but money. Matt Ryan is the safer pick but will obviously cost you more in terms of money and having to give up some sort of draft or player compensation to acquire him. He’s also never thrown for more than 17 interceptions in a season, doing it once in 2013. Jameis famously had his 30 interception season in 2019. High-risk/high reward.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Colts play this. At the moment, they seem content to play the waiting game until the likes of Jimmy G, Mayfield, Watson and other dominos fall. But if Matt Ryan somehow ends up on the outside looking in with Atlanta then I’m picking up the phone and dialing Falcons GM Terry Fontenot’s phone number to try and get a deal worked out. Matt Ryan will offer a short-term, but viable QB option for the Colts, keeping them in contention in a loaded AFC while giving the Colts more time to sort out their long-term quarterback situation. Are they kicking the can down the road once again? Yep. But 2022 doesn’t appear to be offering any solid options whether it’s free agency or the draft meaning Matt Ryan may be the best choice if the Colts want to remain relevant heading into next season.