The Colts are in rough shape.
The Carolina Panthers (and Frank Reich) traded up from #9 to #1 with the Chicago Bears and now control the NFL Draft. A QB needy team that the Colts couldn’t afford to leapfrog over them did just that. The added sting being that team is now led by Reich, who they fired mid-season.
Now the Colts are looking at the third best QB option in the draft and that’s a best-case scenario considering the Arizona Cardinals could easily trade out of #3 and send that pick to another QB hungry team. The Colts inaction could be there Achilles heel once again when it comes to quarterback options.
While other teams are making bold moves, the Colts, dealing with the circumstances they’ve put themselves in, are stuck on the sidelines. They couldn’t come close to the package Carolina offered Chicago and now they have to make a decision: stay at #4 and see who falls where, trade down, attempt to trade for Lamar Jackson or (gulp) sign an inexpensive veteran QB and kick the can down the road for yet another season.
I don’t see the Colts being in on Jackson. Not only would it be a complete 180 from their philosophy but they’d have to give up 2 first-round picks AND be willing to fork over $200+ million in guaranteed money before a snap is even played next season.
They could stay at 4, hope the Panthers or Texans get crazy and select someone other than Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud with the first two picks and maybe one of those guys falls to them at 4. Would they be okay with Will Levis or Anthony Richardson at 4? Those guys are more of a project than NFL-ready, which might not be the worst thing for the Colts considering they don’t look to be contending for anything in the stacked AFC next season.
The other option and the one fans probably don’t want even to consider is the possibility the Colts decide to go the veteran QB route once again and use the fourth pick on another need like offensive line or another position of need. Marcus Mariota? Potentially Jameis Winston? I’ve been saying for weeks the logical solution for a veteran QB is Gardner Minshew, who was in Shane Steichen’s offense in Philadelphia. The Colts currently have Matt Ryan and Nick Foles still on their roster. I’d be shocked if either of them are still on the roster by the start of the new league year.
Chris Ballard has said he doesn’t see a Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence-type QB in this draft but you can’t keep waiting around for a generational QB to fall in your lap. You also can’t be expecting to pick in the top 5 every year. The Colts needed to be bold and they weren’t and now they may pay for their inaction once again.
The legal tampering period is underway and the Colts are twiddling their thumbs as usual. They can’t do much until they do release Ryan and other veterans but by then, the top tier free agents could be claimed and the Colts will once again be getting the second and third-level free agents available.
For an organization that said they recognize they need to change their philosophy when it comes to QB and free agency, it looks like for now, they are following their usual playbook to a T.
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