The great mystery of the Colts offseason is who their starting quarterback will be this fall.
It’s been a long time since the Colts had a hole at that position as they prepped for free agency and the draft.
Even in 1998 and 2012, the last two times the Colts invested a first round pick on a quarterback, they knew Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck would be coming to Indy.
This year is different because there are a bunch of big name free agents, and the Colts have the 13th pick in the first round, which leaves general manager Chris Ballard at the mercy of the 12 teams ahead of them.
Let’s not forget Jacoby Brissett, who is the incumbent. Despite being thrust into the starting role when Andrew Luck retired 15 days prior to the opener of the 2019 season, Brissett acquitted himself quite well in 2019 until spraining his knee in Pittsburgh.
Jacoby Brissett – 5-2 The Colts were 5-2 when Brissett went down at Heinz Field. At the time, Brissett had thrown 14 TDs and only three interceptions. Through those seven games, Brissett’s passer rating topped 80 six times. After the injury, Brissett topped 80 just once with only four TDs and another three picks. As with the law, possession is 90% of who wins the job next season. Incumbency makes Brissett an underwhelming favorite.
Justin Herbert – 6-1 It looks like Herbert is the most likely of the top tier of quarterbacks to fall to the Colts at 13. He’s a prototypical quarterback at 6’6″, 238 lbs. who can make all the throws. He had a great Senior Bowl week, according to reports, and possesses solid leadership traits. He might not have the high ceiling of Jordan Love of Utah State, but his floor is quite a bit higher. One knock is that he is not well practiced at taking snaps under center, but that’s a skill that can be acquired. Herbert’s last three games for Oregon were not his best, but the Ducks won all of them so it’s hard to ding him for not throwing for 200 yards in any. That might actually make the Colts love him as a skilled game manager all the more.
Tom Brady – 10-1 Maybe I’m living in hope and will die in desperation, but Brady seems a really good fit for the Colts. The defense is young and improving, the offensive line returns intact, and Ballard has $86-million of cap space to throw around. If the Colts sign the soon-to-be 43-years-old Brady to a two-year deal at $60-million, keep Brissett this year as a back-up, and draft a young guy like Herbert to develop, that would set up the Colts in 2020 and through 2030 at the NFL’s most important position. It’s a long shot, but unlike Philip Rivers as a free agent, it makes sense.
Teddy Bridgewater – 15-1 Of all the candidates, Bridgewater is somehow the least sexy, but perhaps the best combination of both long and short-term promise for success. All Bridgewater did last year in five starts for the Saint was win (5-0), and in his only season as a full-time starter for the Vikings, he went 11-5. It bears mention that the 27-year-old Bridgewater was not spectacular in those five games last year. His QBR was just 45, but winning is more important than stats. Bridgewater’s long-term health is also an issue because of the catastrophic leg injury he suffered in 2016. The torn ACL and dislocated knee have healed, but they leave him at a higher risk of more injuries.
Jordan Love – 18-1 It’s likely, according to mock drafts, that Love will be gone by the time the Colts are at the clock. There is a chance the Colts could move up if they are absolutely awestruck by Love. He had a magnificent sophomore season with 32 TDs and six picks, but his junior (and final) year at Utah State was lackluster with just 20 TDs and 17 picks. Love is not a finished product, and might require a Mahomes-esque year in waiting before being trusted as the starter. That makes him unlikely to start even if the Colts tab Love at lucky #13.
Philip Rivers – 50-1 Rivers just doesn’t make any sense as a target for the Colts. He’s not only old, but in decline. Not once in his 14 seasons as a starter did Rivers take the Chargers to a Super Bowl. In his last decade, Rivers led the Chargers to a 77-83 record. Colts fans have always loathed Rivers for knocking the Colts out of the playoffs to end their 2007 and 2008 seasons, but that wasn’t the same Rivers as the guy who’s about to turn 39. Because Ballard’s moves always make sense, I’ve expended way too much time and energy trying to find ways the Colts signing Rivers is logical. I have yet to find any.
75-1 – the Field There are always unknowns lurking somewhere out there that might dazzle Ballard and his staff. There are quarterbacks that might be available with the 34th or 45th pick that the Colts might love. Trying to outguess Ballard over the three-day draft is impossible. They love to stick to their board – which bears little resemblance to mock drafts we will peruse and create over the next seven weeks. If the Colts have defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (or anyone else) slotted ahead of Love or Herbert on their board, they are going to take Kinlaw (or someone else).
Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston – 500-1 There is no chance the Colts are going to trade meaningful assets to acquire Dalton – who has never led the Bengals to a postseason win. Someone is going to overpay for the upside represented by Winston’s 5,109 passing yards in 2019 while believing they can coach him away from the bad decisions that led to last season’s 30 picks.