According to NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, the Indianapolis Colts are a veteran starting quarterback away from reaching next season’s Super Bowl among each AFC team’s glaring need going forward:
2nd AFC South · 11-5, 0-1 playoffs
The Colts must: add a veteran QB.
Philip Rivers proved in 2020 that the Colts were a move-in ready playoff house; they just needed a solid signal-caller. Following Rivers’ retirement, Indy is now again in the same situation it was in before Rivers arrived last offseason. The team has the luxury of endless cap space in a cap-strapped year, but there are also a few more roster holes following left tackle Anthony Castonzo’s decision to retire, too. The simplest solution is to use that financial surplus, head coach Frank Reich’s reputation and a few draft picks to secure a quality veteran — if there was a team built to mortgage the farm in a Dak Prescott trade or try to deal for Matt Ryan, the Colts would be it. They aren’t far away; they out-gained the Bills, the hottest team in the NFL entering the playoffs, by 75 yards in a highly winnable game. Taking a step back at quarterback, however, would leave this organization without a key to get this great foundation back in the tournament.
What Rosenthal wrote isn’t exactly earth-shattering, as the Colts feature a ‘built to win now’, well-rounded roster that is a starting quarterback short—and a few key pieces (left tackle, wide receiver, and pass rusher) away from seriously competing for a Super Bowl again.
However, I would add that the Colts aren’t just any veteran quarterback short as last year’s starter wasn’t good enough to realistically make the Super Bowl—with a late career Philip Rivers (and his physical limitations) behind center. The team cannot just plug in say veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick next season and expect to reasonably hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Rather, the franchise needs a veteran starting upgrade at the position entirely—which Rosenthal implied.
Rosenthal mentions the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott, who remains a pipe dream, but is more realistic than Houston Texans superstar passer Deshaun Watson, as well as Atlanta Falcons veteran and former NFL MVP Matt Ryan—who looks like he’s not going to be moved this offseason.
The Colts may need to get creative to find that veteran starting quarterback upgrade—with limited readily available options right now.
However, Rosenthal is largely right that the quarterback position is the driving difference between Indy watching from home with a Doritos bowl or playing during Super Bowl Sunday on the game’s biggest stage in 2021.