On Thursday night the Indianapolis Colts announced their first re-signing of the season in inking a deal with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for another year.
Hasselbeck will turn 40 years old in September. He's entering his 17th NFL season. And yet he's still got it. In 2014, playing in four games in relief of Andrew Luck, Hasselbeck completed 30 of 44 passes (68.2%) for 301 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a passer rating of 102.6. Over his career, he has completed 60.4% of his passes for 34,948 yards and 203 touchdowns against 148 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 82.3. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and the greatest quarterback in Seattle Seahawks history, leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2005.
Yet with the Colts, Hasselbeck has zero chance of winning the starting job. The only way possible that Hasselbeck starts a game is if Andrew Luck is too injured to do so. Why did he return for a third year of sitting the bench? It's not like his services couldn't have been used elsewhere. I noted on twitter Friday night that the quarterback the Browns signed to potentially be their starter (Josh McCown) is worse than the quarterback the Colts signed to be their backup (Hasselbeck). And it's not just the Browns - there are a number of teams that could have used a veteran like Hasselbeck as competition for a starting spot. It's unlikely he would have found any team to sign him as their starter right away, but he likely would have found teams that would have given him a shot to win the job. Why return to the Colts, one of relatively few teams that will have absolutely no competition this summer?
Simple: to win a Super Bowl.
Talking with Colts.com's Kevin Bowen on Saturday, Hasselbeck noted that he considered going to play as a starter somewhere else much more than he considered retirement, but that was only briefly. "I think the most important thing," Hasselbeck said, "is being in a great organization with great coaching that is trying to win a Super Bowl right away, that actually can. And that's this team." He realizes that at this point in his career, what he wants even more than a starting spot is to be a part of a Super Bowl winning team. And so he opted to return to the Colts, a team he feels is close to doing that.
"For sure this was a great fit for me. I had to see if this was a great fit for them. That's the part you just never know as a player," Hasselbeck told Bowen. "I understand too that they have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and sometimes they have to say goodbye to guys that are good players. I'm psyched that it worked out here."
I'm sure that Andrew Luck and the rest of the Colts are excited that it worked out as well, and they'll all be hoping to make Hasselbeck's return to Indy well worth it come next February.