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Matt Hasselbeck "strongly leaning toward" playing in 2016

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Colts quarterback Matt Hasslebeck told ESPN710 in Seattle that he is "strongly leaning toward" playing in 2016. He will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most important players for the Colts in 2015 and one of the main reasons they managed an 8-8 record was backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who stepped in capably for Andrew Luck.  The 40-year old quarterback was incredibly beat up during the season, however, leading some to speculate he might retire.

In a recent interview with ESPN710 in Seattle, however, Hasselbeck said that he instead is "strongly leaning toward" playing in 2016.

Hasselbeck has spent the past three years as the backup for Andrew Luck and was thrust into starting action in 2015.  Starting eight games, Hasselbeck completed 156 of 256 passes (60.9%) for 1,690 yards (6.6 yards per attempt), nine touchdowns, and five interceptions for a passer rating of 84.  You can't really ask for much more from a backup, and he was playing well until injuries caught up to him.  Shoulder, rib, and back injuries affected him during the final month of the year, leading to struggles from the quarterback.  Overall, however, Hasselbeck did everything you could have expected from a 40-year old backup and then some, keeping the Colts alive in the playoff picture until the final week of the regular season despite Luck missing nine games.

Of course, perhaps the biggest question will be where Matt Hasselbeck will play in 2016, not if he will play.  He is set to become a free agent this offseason, and it's entirely possible that the Colts will want to get younger (and cheaper) at the backup quarterback position.  Josh Freeman and Stephen Morris are both under contract with the team for 2016, meaning that the Colts may very well bring both guys into training camp to let them compete for the job.  Does Hasselbeck fit into the picture?  He has been a great sounding board for Andrew Luck and has filled in well for him, but are the Colts going to want to bring him back for another year?  That's the biggest question right now, and we don't really know the answer to it.  The Colts were grateful for what Hasselbeck did for them in 2015, so it's possible they would offer him a deal to return for one more year.  If he left it would mean that Andrew Luck would be without the two coaches he was closest with (Pep Hamilton and Clyde Christensen) and one of the players he was closest with (Matt Hasselbeck), but such is life in the NFL.

Basically, at this point it sounds like Hasselbeck wants to play in 2016, but we don't know whether the Colts want to re-sign him or not.  He could be a solid backup option for either the Colts or someone else, however, so I'd expect him to be able to find a job regardless of what the Colts want to do if Hasselbeck really does choose to play in 2016.