INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts are in the midst of trying to answer the question that remains the most important one in sports.
What are we doing with at quarterback and are changes needed to Carson Wentz as QB1?
Even though the trade for Wentz last offseason and his contract situation say ‘give him another year,’ his below average play in many facets this past season has that idea in doubt.
So, the Colts are exploring.
“I think we will look at everything,” Chris Ballard said when asked about evaluating the QB situation this offseason. “There’s always a solution. Sometimes they aren’t ideal, but there are solutions. Sometimes they are long-term. Sometimes they are not. But I think we will look at everything.
“That’s the great thing about this league, there’s always a solution. There is. It’s our job to problem solve and find the solution. It might not be the perfect solution. It might not be perfect. It might not be the long-term solution, but there’s a solution every year. There’s a little timing and luck of sometimes getting the long-term solutions to certain positions but there’s a solution for that year coming up. But that’s what we have to work towards.”
Let’s examine the 4 paths for the Colts at quarterback:
-Keep Wentz: If this decision was solely based off the finances and resources, Wentz would be back in 2022. It would save the Colts $15 million and allow them to commit their cap space/draft capital to supporting him. In doing that, would Wentz take strides in Year 2 under Frank Reich? Would a healthy Wentz throughout training camp lead to more consistency and efficiency out of his play? When Ballard was asked about Wentz’s areas for improvement being ‘fixable,’ skepticism and uncertainty came out of the GM’s mouth. It has to be asked how much Wentz can grow heading into Year 7 with his 30th birthday coming at the end of this year.
-Trade for a quarterback: Jim Irsay says “all chips are in” moving forward. If that’s the case, is this when Colts fans start dreaming about a trade for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson? What seriously hurts the Colts in those lofty scenarios comes from not having a first-round pick in 2022. That might be a non-starter for those teams entertaining such offers. Sure, the Colts have some intriguing young players they could dangle, but nothing compares to a 1st round pick in the upcoming draft. If the Raiders decide to put Derek Carr on the trade market, could the Colts enter that conversation with a more comparable offer? Perhaps the Colts are a Rodgers/Wilson/Deshaun Watson domino effect away of having another QB, that isn’t currently on the market, be available. This is the path that would likely offer the quickest fix and have the Colts in a position to be a January-type team next year. But it would also be the costliest, and that’s saying something as the Colts enter a draft without the normal capital they’ve had under Ballard.
-Sign a free agent: If you want to cry, then look at the list of free agent quarterbacks in 2022. Ryan Fitzpatrick? Teddy Bridgewater? Cam Newton? Andy Dalton? Marcus Mariota? Jameis Winston? How about Jacoby Brissett? It’s one of the grimmest looking quarterback free agency classes in years. The question you are weighing here is are those names an upgrade over Wentz? That’s highly debatable. Hell, would throwing Sam Ehlinger into the fire be that worse odd than some of these names? While such a signing might improve competition/provide a more experienced backup, the Colts would still be in quarterback purgatory. Resource wise though, this is the safest move and does bring some change at QB. How much though?
-Draft a quarterback: In the AFC this season, the Titans, Colts and Broncos were the only teams who didn’t draft their starting quarterback. It’s difficult (very difficult) to find the long-term answer at QB unless it comes from the draft. Drafting the right guy isn’t easy, but it’s the clearest path to (potential) sustained success. Plus, selecting a rookie with identified traits in the early-ish rounds—one that has a clear NFL mind (compared to a re-tread QB via trade or free agency)—would give Frank Reich something to develop for really the first time in his Colts head coaching career. Isn’t that playing to Reich’s coaching strengths? Of course when looking at the 2022 Draft, the quarterback class is weak and the Colts don’t currently have a pick in the first 45 selections. Could the Colts find a QB in the 2nd round (Derek Carr was drafted 36th overall in 2014 and Jimmy Garoppolo was taken 62nd overall in 2014, too) or trade up higher, possibly even to the back end of the 1st round (a la the Ravens with Lamar Jackson at No. 32 overall). Such a selection would take some patience and development, but the reward could be huge. Again, none of these answers offer obvious solutions. But an exhaustive look at it a must.