The Indianapolis Colts will once again have to look for a new franchise quarterback.
More than a year after Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement, another starting Colts quarterback called it a career. This is said to be because Philip Rivers, 39, announced his retirement from the San Diego Star-Tribune Tuesday night.
While Rivers may be the second quarterback to leave the Colts in less than two years, that doesn’t mean the starting quarterback position in Indianapolis is far from a dream job of sorts.
The Colts are an 11-5 team that just made their second playoff appearance in the past three years under head coach Frank Reich. In fact, it could be argued that if Reich hadn’t opted for a fourth-and-goal conversion in the second quarter of the team’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, they might still be playing right now. .
Team operations are led by general manager Chris Ballard, one of the league’s top decision makers in rebuilding the Kansas City Chiefs into an annual playoff contender in the 2010s – just before the Patrick Mahomes era.
The Colts only have one quarterback – sophomore Jacob Eason – on contract for next season.
So what are the Colts doing? Are they quickly looking to replace Rivers with a veteran quarterback and have another Super Bowl run? Or are they drafting a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft?
The answer is simple: they do both.
Rivers signing was obviously a quick dressing to the team’s quarterback’s dilemma last year. And quite simply, the signing worked for the team.
Rivers had one of his best years, posting the third highest completion percentage of his career and his third highest passer rating in the past 10 seasons. And while the 17-year-old veteran is an absolute statue in the pocket, the Colts allowed just 19 sacks on Rivers – the second lowest score of his career as a starter.
But now it’s time to tackle the team’s biggest problem – the lack of a franchise quarterback. But at the same time, they can still acquire a veteran quarterback who will help the team win now.
While they have the No.21 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Colts have a number of options. They can choose to stand up and select a quarterback like Mac Jones of Alabama. Or they could get in the draft and pick a guy like Trey Lance from North Dakota State.
If the Colts are serious about making a difference at football’s most important position, they could start moving from their 21st place in the draft. The best teams in the AFC all took action in the draft to select their guy for quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs did it with Patrick Mahomes when they moved up 17 spots. The Baltimore Ravens also did it with Lamar Jackson when they traded 20 picks. The Buffalo Bills made a similar move, moving up 14 places. And while things haven’t been pretty in Houston over the past year, the Texans made a bold move when they traded 13 places in the draft for Deshaun Watson.
The bottom line is this: if you want to be one of the contenders, you need to make bold moves. You do this by swapping assets to get up in the draft and picking your guy up for quarterback.
Apart from the obvious as the Colts have to write early to find their franchise quarterback of the future, Indianapolis can find their short-term solution with a number of options.
Names like Matthew Stafford, Sam Darnold, and Carson Wentz are viable business options. In the case of a guy like Ryan Fitzpatrick – or maybe even Dak Prescott – Indianapolis can just sign one.
All of the aforementioned players have baggage. If they didn’t, those wouldn’t be possibilities. However, the five players can easily fill Rivers ‘void and maintain the Colts’ status as a legitimate playoff contender.
Are we forgetting that Rivers had just had the worst season of his career in 2019 and placed second in the NFL in throwing interceptions?
It’s remarkable what a change of scenery and structure can do for a player.
The New York Jets could give Darnold another chance under a new regime led by first-year head coach Robert Saleh. Wentz’s acquisition from the Philadelphia Eagles can be hard to swallow due to his huge cap of around $ 133 million over the next four seasons.
So that leaves Stafford as the best option here.
Stafford is only 32 and has been plagued with playing for poor organization – remember, this is the same team that forced Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson to retire early – their entire careers.
Yes, his 0-3 playoff record and lack of playoff success will likely scare some off. But there’s no doubt his skills or the fact that he hasn’t slowed down in his 12th season.
While the number of contracts is quite large ($ 33 million in 2021, $ 26 million in 2022), the Lions could leave Stafford with just $ 6 million in dead money in the 2022 offseason if they just want to. a one-year rental.
And given that the Lions are on a new head coach for the fourth time in Stafford’s career with no quick rebuild in sight, they might be aware of trading their franchise quarterback for a real contender for the first time. of her career.
Rivers ‘retirement can be another sting for the Colts’ organization. But make no mistake, this team is not going anywhere.
As long as the Colts acquire a veteran quarterback – and draft one early in the 2021 NFL Draft – they should be a pesky contender for the playoffs entering again next season.