The news reported last night became official today, as the Indianapolis Colts signed veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to a 2-year, $8 million deal. The fourteen year veteran will back up Andrew Luck and will provide valuable insight and mentoring to the young quarterback.
While the details of the contract aren't known yet other than that it is for 2-years and $8 million, just going off of a purely balanced contract would mean that the Colts would be paying a backup quarterback $4 million a year. [It could be a backloaded contract similar to the one given to Kerry Collins when he was signed to a two-year deal before the 2011 season. Collins was never going to play out the extent of that contract and therefore the backloaded contract was smart. If the same is true of Hasselbeck's contract, it will be an indication that the contract is essentially a one-year deal.] At the start of the offseason, I said that the positions the Colts didn't need were left tackle, tight end, kicker, and of course, quarterback. If you had told me then that the Colts would pay a quarterback that much to be a backup, I'd have said Ryan Grigson was making a very dumb move. If you had told me that I would have liked the signing, I'd have said that I was being an idiot. But that's exactly how I feel (not the idiot part, the part about liking the signing. Although a case could be made for the former as well.). I really like this signing by the Colts, as it will help Andrew Luck learn and progress in his second year. He will be able to bounce ideas off of Hasselbeck, a quarterback with a ton of experience - most of it in the West Coast offense.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Hasselbeck has completed 60% of his passes for 34,517 yards, 201 touchdowns and 147 interceptions, while also rushing for 1,229 yards and 8 touchdowns in his career. He has started 11 playoff games and won an NFC Championship game in 2005. After spending his first few years in Green Bay backing up Brett Favre with the Packers, Hasselbeck was then traded to the Seahawks where he spent the next 10 years. He then signed with the Tennessee Titans in 2011 and spent the next two seasons there. He was released yesterday by the Titans and then was very quickly signed by the Colts.
Matt Hasselbeck is a great locker room influence and a good guy who will help Andrew Luck develop as a quarterback. While it may seem like the Colts are paying him too much, keep in mind two things: 1) we don't know the details of the contract yet, as I stated earlier; and 2) Let's just say that he is due to make $4 million this year anyway. With Luck making only $1,394,909 and Chandler Harnish making only $480,000, the Colts would still be paying only $5,874,909 to all three of their quarterbacks combined, which will include one of the brightest quarterbacks in the NFL and one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. That's not overpaying, by any means. That's a steal.
It is safe to say that priority number one this year was making sure that all efforts were made to ensure that Andrew Luck will continue to develop on an outstanding rookie season. The Colts hired his offensive coordinator at Stanford, Pep Hamilton, to run an offense that Luck is familiar with from a coach that Luck is familiar with. They signed offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas. They are reportedly interested in a wide receiver, though whom that player is remains a big mystery. And now they have signed a smart veteran quarterback to sit behind Luck and act as a mentor.
Lastly, this signing brings with it the question of what it means for Chandler Harnish, last year's Mr. Irrelevant. Harnish spent last season as the practice squad quarterback because Drew Stanton was the number 2 guy, and after Stanton left in free agency to pursue a starting job with Bruce Arians' in Arizona with the Cardinals, it seemed like Harnish would get his shot at the number 2 quarterback. But that no longer seems to be the case, as the Colts did not bring in Matt Hasselbeck to be the third string quarterback. Maybe the Colts think that Harnish needs more work, and maybe they think that Hasselbeck will be able to help Harnish as well as Luck. I personally think that Chandler Harnish has potential, but I also really like the signing of Matt Hasslebeck. The Colts now have a quarterback position that, from the number 1 guy to the number 3 guy, seems to be one of the deepest in the league. And comparing that to 2011, it's a change that I'll gladly take.