Many Colts fans treasure Colts backup QB Jacoby Brissett due to the fact that, in 2017, he seemed like a competent starter, something that’s hard to come by nowadays. Among the community, many believe that there is no need to trade Brissett unless we are offered at least a 3rd. I agree, but not for the same reason most people do.
The vast majority of Colts fans know that Brissett is, at worst, a top 3 backup in the league. And at best, probably a mid-tier starting QB. He has the poise, the arm, the leadership and the work ethic to make it far in the League.
For these reasons, many fans expect Brissett to get a hefty pay day, one that would net the Colts at least a 3rd round compensatory pick. I believe otherwise because, while the QB market is expensive, I think there are a few criteria that players have to meet before they get a big payday. This is especially true for the QB position.
Number one is that if you don’t have astronomical numbers in most major passing category, that’s a strike. Ideally, you would want to have your best statistical season during your contract year. That way teams think you are trending upwards and buy into you as a franchise QB.
Brissett is not up to par in either of those scenarios. The only season he saw significant snaps was 2017, which is 2 years removed from when he is set to be free agent. Furthermore, his stats that season were 3,098 yards, 13 TD, 7 INTs, on 58.8% passing and a Total QBR of 43.3 (27th).
The second important factor is winning, most importantly in the playoffs. I think everyone can agree upon the fact that Case Keenum, Nick Foles and the likes aren’t great QBs who you can expect to establish a dynasty and win many rings with. So why do they get paid $20+ million a year? They win big, especially in contract years. It’s straight and simple recency bias. You see a QB making a deep and successful playoff run and you can’t help but think, he could do that for us.
Let me give you an example. In 2013 Joe Flacco became Super Bowl MVP after beating the Patriots in the AFC Conference game and a loaded 49ers team. His stats for that season? 3,912 yards, 19 TDs, 22 INTs and 59.0% and a total QBR of 48.0 (22nd). However, his big win secured his future in Baltimore for the next half decade.
The final major criteria point is developing under the team that drafts you. In this case, young QBs filled with potential progress throughout the length of their rookie deal, and the team that drafted them, the team who gets to see them practice everyday, makes a calculated decision to resign the player in hopes they continue to improve.
In summary, Brissett has average stats, a 4-12 record as a starter, hasn’t plaid since 2017 and he hasn’t started more than 15 games.
I know Brissett is good. I watched him play throughout the nightmare of a season in 2017. I know the context that surrounded him that year: thrust into the lineup after a late pre-season trade, playing behind a putrid O-Line that allowed 56 sacks and receivers that didn’t do him much service. But in a league that revolves around “what have you done for me lately”, Brissett will struggle to find suitors.
Because the reality is there truly aren’t many teams interested in QBs right now. The league is swamped with rookie QBs, and it’s going to take organizations at least 2-3 years to realize if the player they drafted in the first or second round is truly their franchise QB. For many, the answer will be no. But that doesn’t matter to Brissett, because, as of right now, the only plausible suitors I could see for him are the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Titans and Broncos.
And even then those teams are kind of a stretch. The Dolphins are in full #TankingforTua mode, not to talk about the fact that they have Rosen in the building. Both the Bucs and the Titans could stick with their QBs depending on how this season goes, and the Broncos have their 2019 2nd round pick, QB of the future, waiting on the sidelines. All of this is without even considering the fact that Teddy Bridgewater, a higher priority acquisition for many of these teams, is set to be a FA after 2019.
So if I’m Brissett or his agent, I have to take one of three paths. One, sign a one year deal with a dysfunctional franchise to prove that I am indeed a quality NFL starter. Two, take the biggest multi-year contract I can find, even though it will probably be very incentive based and filled with team-friendly clauses that make it easy for the organization to dump me at a low cost. Three, re-sign with the Colts on something like a 1 year, $6-8 million dollar contract (similar to what Bridgewater did) and see how the market is then.
In summary, unless Luck’s calf explodes and Brissett lights up the league, he’s going to be facing this scenario at the end of the 2019 season. I wish him the best, but also want to state that there is no shame in being a career backup. McCown’s 17 year career revolved around being a bridge QB and he made a cool $50 million. At the very least, that would be a solid career for any player, especially Brissett.