Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has given indications in recent weeks that he will likely return to the NFL for an 18th season in 2016. Last week, in fact, he told ESPN710 in Seattle that he is "strongly leaning toward" playing another year.
The biggest question, it seems, might not be whether Hasselbeck will play in 2016 but rather where he will play. The Colts have Josh Freeman and Stephen Morris under contract for the 2016 season and the team could opt to go with one of the younger, cheaper options as their backup quarterback instead of the 40-year old Hasselbeck.
That's simply speculation, however, and in a recent interview with Colts.com's Steve Andress, Hasselbeck may have hinted that the Colts do indeed want him back if the quarterback wants to play another season.
Hasselbeck mentioned that he's healthy now (he was pretty beat up at the end of the season) and that he does want to play in 2016, though he didn't officially make an announcement or a decision quite yet.
"I think it's one of those things where you have to reevaluate at the end of every year where you are and where people you trust think you are," Hasselbeck said. "I rely heavily on the advice of coaches and people who evaluate football talent and people who know me best, my family and friends. I know I want to play."
One of those people that Hasselbeck relies on for advice is Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. The quarterback said that he sat down with Pagano a week and a half ago as the coach asked him what his plans were, and Hasselbeck then asked Pagano to honestly give his opinion on what the quarterback should do. Pagano's response, according to Hasselbeck, was "hey, we love you. We'd love to have you back."
The comments are interesting because they seem to indicate that Chuck Pagano expressed a desire to Matt Hasselbeck to return to the Colts in 2016 if the veteran wants to play another year. Of course, sometimes words can be misinterpreted or misrepresented, so it's possible that it's simply what Hasselbeck wanted to hear rather than what Pagano said, but it does give an indication that the Colts might be hoping to keep the 40-year old quarterback around.
It will be interesting to see what happens, especially since owner Jim Irsay wants Pagano to make more football decisions rather than emotional decisions. Will Irsay see keeping Hasselbeck as a smart football move or an emotional move to keep a respected locker room guy and likable teammate around? The good news for the Colts is that the move will make sense either way and wouldn't be a bad move regardless of what they do. If the team decides to move on from Hasselbeck, they have a couple of younger guys who have the potential to be the backup for Andrew Luck. If the team decides to bring Hasselbeck back, they will keep Andrew Luck's confidant and a guy who started eight games for the team last year (helping them to five wins).
In other words, this decision appears to be one that would make sense either way for the Colts, so there's less pressure riding on the move. Based on Matt Hasselbeck's account of his recent conversation with Chuck Pagano, however, it sounds like the Colts might want the quarterback around for 2016.