INDIANAPOLIS – Whether the Colts want to publicly admit this or not, it would be wisest for the franchise to entertain some selling ahead of next week’s trade deadline.
Unlike other professional sports leagues, the NFL trade deadline typically is void of many fireworks.
But you still see around a handful of deals at the mid-way point of the season, as teams try to re-position themselves for the back-half of the year.
For the Colts (3-3-1) in 2022, it would make the most sense for them to have one eye looking towards the future.
Being ‘buyers’ at the trade deadline—which comes next Tuesday, November 1st—would mean a team is content giving up future draft picks to improve in the short-term.
While that would be enticing, especially for one having constant offensive issues right now, such a narrow-minded focus isn’t going to be the difference in the Colts going from mediocre football team to January contender, particularly with a new starter at quarterback this week.
More important than though, is the looming question the Colts must factor when weighing any major personnel decision.
The future at quarterback in Indianapolis continues to be a great unknown.
Until a potential answer to that question arrives, every possible trade must take that into consideration.
What that means is 2023 draft capital is precious, and giving up any would further limit the ability to trade up for a QB next April.
If anything, trying to acquire some more draft capital for ’23 should be explored.
Do the Colts have a player or position that would fall into that category?
With Monday’s jarring news at quarterback, both Matt Ryan (if healthy) and Nick Foles would/should be definite trade candidates. Do the Colts really need both in the No. 2 and No. 3 roles with Sam Ehlinger now starting? If another team currently in the playoff hunt has their QB go down with a serious injury this weekend, would Foles or Ryan garner a Day 3 pick? Currently, Ryan is the 3rd QB as he rehabs a right shoulder sprain this week. Foles is the backup behind Ehlinger.
Another player who slots into that veteran category is 29-year-old C-Ryan Kelly Yes, the Colts believe a healthy Kelly is a better starting option than Danny Pinter. But Kelly’s level of play has not been at the Pro Bowl level he used to be at.
Defensively, a couple of names come to mind.
Shaquille Leonard has played just a couple of series this season. Without him, the Colts have missed Leonard’s rare playmaking, but free agent linebackers in Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed have played pretty good football without Leonard. Would the Colts entertain the thought of trying to move Leonard, and commit to a future with Okereke and/or Speed as they head for free agency? The thought is probably lofty, but it’s something to ponder as Leonard’s future as hit some bumpy roads with lingering injuries. Part of moving Leonard and/or Kelly would be re-distributing some finances that have been invested into positions others around the NFL don’t view in the most important light. Of course, finding a trade partner given Leonard’s awkward injury situation would be a tall hurdle.
In a somewhat similar light, the absence of Julian Blackmon has brought out an impressive rookie start for Rodney Thomas II. With Blackmon back in the lineup last week, Thomas II still outsnapped Blackmon, 38-to-21, vs. the Titans.
When fully healthy, and playing like their normal selves, both Leonard and Blackmon are important, and unique, playmakers for the Colts. And retaining both, when factoring in what’s been missing from the defense in their absences, brings plenty of reasons. But after the starting quarterback change on Monday, anything should be on the table for the Colts.
One must wonder, too, if the Ehlinger news has sparked any change of heart from the Colts veterans.
Purely throwing out a scenario here, but what if such a move rubbed a Stephon Gilmore the wrong way, or another high-level playing veteran? Might they request a trade if they believe Super Bowl aspirations are not possible in Indianapolis?
Given the state of the Colts right now, no one on this roster should be untouchable.
Calls should be taken by Chris Ballard for anybody on the roster.
That should especially be true as the search for the franchise quarterback remains at the forefront of the decisions this offseason.