Colts’ full intentions are to keep Jacoby Brissett, I'm told. His contract calls for $7M guarantee tomorrow and $6M salary, so perhaps that affects some things, but the team considers him a special guy and wants him in the fold.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 21, 2020
Of course, keeping Brissett comes with major angst among some Colts fans.
As an incredibly high priced backup now, Brissett comes with a $21.375M cap hit—including a guaranteed $7M bonus that will be paid by the Colts on Sunday (unless a team shockingly acquires him in a trade before that, then that team would be on the hook for the bonus—which will be paid out regardless).
The Colts could save $8.875 million of Brissett’s deal by either trading (post-bonus payout) or releasing him. Another creative maneuver could be to make Brissett a post-June 1 designation cut, which could save them as much as $15.125 million in salary cap savings this year.
However, the Colts just cut veteran backup Brian Hoyer, and it appears the current plan is to retain Brissett as the primary backup quarterback to Rivers.
Brissett completed 272 of 447 pass attempts (60.9%) for 2,942 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 88.0 in 15 starts this past season.
While the 27 year old quarterback got off to a hot start—and the Colts were 5-2 to begin the season, Brissett suffered a knee injury against Pittsburgh in Week 8, and the wheels immediately began coming off for Indianapolis’ season.
The Colts would lose 6 of their next 8 games, and their passing game stalled, as Brissett showed a lack of anticipation on open routes/throws and a general reluctance to throw the ball downfield.
Nevertheless, Brissett, as a backup, is one of the best in the business in that capacity, as he has starting experience and the chance to at least keep the Colts around .500.
He’s also been highly regarded for his leadership in the Colts locker room and is considered a great teammate by all accounts.
The problem is that he comes with a significant salary cap hit, and that Rivers—who’s made 224 consecutive starts and hasn’t missed a start since 2006 never misses time, ever.
The Colts may be better served re-allocating Brissett’s salary cap hit and addressing other key areas of the roster such as at pass rusher, wide receiver, or cornerback (say Seattle Seahawks’ pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney or New York Jets wideout Robby Anderson).
The Colts could also arguably be better served long-term by drafting and developing a young quarterback as Rivers’ primary backup and providing them whatever limited practice/training camp reps are available behind Rivers to help accelerate their future development.
That likely won’t be the case with Brissett back in the fold—who will eat whatever remaining reps are available behind Rivers.
As it stands, the Colts—at least publicly are sticking with Brissett as their primary backup.
However, it wouldn’t surprise me if this situation remains fluid—as perhaps it’s a bargaining ploy to drive up potential draft pick compensation from say, the New England Patriots—who may think they can just sign Brissett once Indianapolis waives him outright.