Entering the offseason, there were only a few positions that I said the Colts wouldn't address. One of them was quarterback.
Well, look how that turned out.
The Colts signed veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck just days after the Tennessee Titans released him. Bringing in the veteran to backup the second year guy in Andrew Luck was a very smart move and one that should pay off for the Colts this year. I wrote at the time of the signing about the team signing a quarterback:
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.
The 6-4, 225 pound Hasselbeck was drafted way back in 1998 (the same year the Colts drafted Peyton Manning) by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round out of Boston College. In his career, he has made three pro bowls (2003, 2005, 2007) and won an NFC Championship (2005). He has started 194 games over his 15 year career, as well as 11 playoff games. We won't go too much in depth on his career accomplishments because, well, you probably already know about Matt Hasselbeck. Spending the bulk of his career in Seattle(2001-2010), Hasselbeck is the Seahawks' all-time leading passer and enjoyed a very successful run.
After the 2010 season, Hasselbeck was due to become a free agent and a deal was never reached with the Seahawks. The Colts reportedly tried to sign him prior to the 2011 season while trying to find a guy to fill in for the injured Peyton Manning, but Hasselbeck signed with the Tennessee Titans instead. In 2 years there, he appeared in 24 games, including 8 last year. He fluctuated in between starting and backing up Jake Locker, although Hasselbeck was always a better and more reliable option than Locker was.
When the Titans released Hasselbeck earlier this offseason, the move came as a big surprise to many people. Yeah, he was due to make $5.5 million next year, but it seemed very likely that it would be renegotiated. Instead, the Titans released Hasselbeck and instead signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete with Jake Locker (as a Colts fan, I am totally fine with this move, as Hasselbeck is still - at 37 years old - a better quarterback than either of those guys). Several teams were interested in signing Hasselbeck but to him, a ring mattered more than a starting job and he signed with the Colts.
Owner Jim Irsay called it an "insurance policy" and, though the contract was rather significant (2 years, $7.25 million), the move will greatly help the Colts.
First off, it will help Andrew Luck. If you thought he was good last year, just wait until this year. Luck figures to take major steps forward, and bringing in a veteran who has started and won many games will help Luck acclimate to doing the same. Just having a guy who has experienced many of the things that Luck will be experiencing will help, as Luck can bounce ideas and pose questions to Hasselbeck.
Secondly, the move will help Chandler Harnish. Last year's Mr. Irrelevant, Harnish spent the 2012 season as the third string quarterback behind Drew Stanton (who followed Bruce Arians to the Arizona Cardinals). This year, he will be the backup to Matt Hasselbeck. Nothing against Stanton, who was a valuable player for the team to have last year, but Hasselbeck should be a much bigger help to Harnish. If he wants to have the number two quarterback spot someday (and then possibly a chance to start somewhere down the road), Harnish needs to make some strides this year, and sitting behind Matt Hasselbeck should help him do that. Everyone talks about how this signing helped Luck out, but it also should have a big impact on Chandler Harnish as well.
And thirdly, this move will help the Colts in case the worst possible scenario would happen like it did two years ago. If Andrew Luck were to go down with an injury, Matt Hasselbeck is about as good as it gets in the entire NFL at backup quarterback. While he obviously wouldn't be able to match Luck's production, he could step in and prevent a bad situation from becoming a disaster, which is what happened when Peyton Manning missed the entire 2011 season. ***
For a signing that is just for a backup, it looks like a lot of money. But the move will pay off for the Colts and will help Andrew Luck and Chandler Harnish to develop quicker. And, should the worst happen and Luck gets hurt, Hasselbeck could step in and win some games. For a real young team led by a real young superstar signal caller, Hasselbeck is the perfect compliment. He's the proven veteran, and he's teamed with the young guy with an unbelievable amount of potential. This one was a good signing by the Colts.
Even though you won't see him on the field, Hasselbeck could be a key part of the Colts' offense next year - and for years to come. And that's exactly why he was signed.
*** Ok, so here's the thing - yes, if the Colts had a better backup quarterback for Peyton they wouldn't have gotten Andrew Luck. I get it. They got lucky and even their big mistake ended up being a blessing. But that's no way to build a team, basing it off of a situation before that was unprecedented in the entire history of the NFL. Be thankful for how it played out but don't think the Colts should do things the exact same way now. Having a backup that can step in and win games is a good thing!