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Colts’ Jim Irsay Seeks a QB that Can Help the Franchise Contend Now—But With a Watchful Eye Towards the Future

NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - Bears at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During his end-of-season press conference, Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay acknowledged that this is a big offseason for his franchise—particularly with having to find a starting quarterback again:

“We know there are challenges going forward, but it’s not, ‘How do you solve the quarterback situation? Boy, is that a tough problem? Isn’t that going to be hard?’ No, that’s opportunity,” Irsay said. “I see this as opportunity. It can go in a lot of different directions, and believe me, we have the best two guys: Chris Ballard and Frank Reich in sorting this thing through. We’ve already met for hours and discussed how we’re going to go about this.”

While suddenly available Detroit Lions franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford ‘is the talk of the town’ for the quarterback needy Colts, who already feature a ‘built to win now’, well-rounded roster, Irsay couldn’t comment on the former #1 overall pick specifically:

“I can’t comment on players that are under contract with other teams, as you all know.”

However, he did acknowledge that he believes the Colts are ‘close’ to contending for a Super Bowl championship—perhaps as soon as the 2021 season, with the right additions:

“First and foremost, I’d say in talking with Chris and Frank, and ourselves, my belief is we’re close. We have a tremendous nucleus of players that are capable of competing for the Super Bowl very soon.”

That conviction is a compelling reason as to why Irsay believes a polished talented veteran quarterback could make the most sense for this year’s Colts (and without Irsay being able to say it, all signs still point to Indianapolis making a serious trade pitch to acquire Stafford):

“So ideally, if you can get someone to come in this year, and several years after, who is ready to go, it gives you your best opportunity, and you don’t have as much of a maturation aspect of seeing them develop and get to that level that they need to get to, where you can get to a Super Bowl and win it.”

“. . . The type of team we have now, it would really benefit us the most if we can get someone to come in that can play at a high level, that has veteran vision, veteran understanding of picking things up quickly so we can get into 2021 and really have a chance if you will, take of where we left off but just tweaking some things, so we’re even a better football team.”

However, Irsay did double down a bit in this high stakes game of starting quarterback poker—as he also noted that the Colts haven’t necessarily turned away from adding a top rookie quarterback through the NFL Draft either:

“That being said, we’ll just have to see where opportunity pushes us because we really would love to be able to get a great young quarterback and obviously, there’s some out there that have been talked about that’s coming out in this draft. We really just have to, really evaluate and see where we are with that.”

“. . . Again, if we could find a young guy, that’s always going to be our focus in the draft, get the guy you can build around for the next 15 years so to speak, that’s ideal. But if not, there’s a lot of ways to get it done.”

However, like his general manager Chris Ballard has preached, the Colts cannot force it and select a quarterback purely for the sake of taking one to potentially fill a significant hole:

“You stay prepared, but I want to reiterate, you can’t set yourself back years by trying to do more than that’s there. All the draft [experts] would tell you, you take what the draft gives you. You can’t force it. . . . You have to have a real disciplined thought process and a check and balance [system] to make sure if you’re going to go after that guy, that he is the right guy.”

The fact is the Colts—at least publicly, are still going through the quarterback evaluation process this offseason and haven’t actually decided anything yet:

“If you would’ve asked Bill Polian and I this time of year in 1998, we couldn’t have told you yet about Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf, and how that thing would’ve sorted out, so there’s a lot of work to be done.”

“I look at it as a challenge. I am excited because I know there [are] a lot of ways you can get this thing done to win it all.”

The goal isn’t just to win one Super Bowl though, it’s to win at least two, and that means the Colts have to find a guy that can help them seriously contend for multiple years—not just one (and if you’re a fan of conspiracy theories, perhaps that’s where the Colts elected to go in a different direction with veteran starter Philip Rivers this early offseason):

“The difficulty here is, that it’s not just getting it right, meaning ‘Well, we want to qualify for the playoffs, and look like we belong there once we play. No, we want to win a Super Bowl and plural, Super Bowls.”

“. . . I’ve always said look it, I’m interested in winning more than one Super Bowl this decade, and that’s what means the most and is our biggest goal, and so I’m not just going to go all in for today, and just say forget the future. Let’s just try go all in now and forget about this consistency of greatness and winning more than one Super Bowl because that’s really what you want to do. . . . We want to be that team that wins two at least.”

However, whether it’s a ‘ready to win now veteran’ or a ‘top rookie passer’, the Colts are looking for a starting quarterback who has the ‘it factor’ and can make those dynamic game-changing plays again regardless:

“But the bottom line is, that special guy under center can make up and change your trajectory like no one else.”

“It’s just like Andrew [Luck] and that Kansas City playoff game, the ball pops out and it’s at the goal line, bouncing around, he picks it up mid-air, grabs it, and like an elite halfback, jumps over the pile for a touchdown. I mean there’s not a lot of guys that can do that, and you search for them because you know at the moment of truth, those guys can bail you out in the most important time.”

However, this offseason, the Colts, considering each and every realistically available scenario, are prepared to make the most fundamentally sound football move—with an eye towards the future (and also not jeopardizing it)—while still looking to seriously contend in the short-term:

“There’s no question that we look to get an elite person at that position, and preferably in the draft, but there’s other ways you can do it, and you have to do it those other ways, until that opportunity presents itself.”

“. . . And I really believe we can do that. I don’t know what path is going to be the best path. Boy, there’s just so many multiple scenarios you can put together, but there’s no question that if there’s an individual or individuals out there that can come in and have experience, I think that would help so much this year.”