If either future Hall of Fame quarterback becomes realistically available this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts should do everything in their power to land either the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers or Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson—and go ‘all in’ for 2022 and immediately beyond.
At a quarterback crossroads with incumbent starter Carson Wentz (and potentially faced with their 5th new starter in as many seasons), none of the Colts’ top brass: team owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard, and head coach Frank Reich have exactly given him a vote of confidence during this early offseason—as the team actively vets through any and all potentially available upgrades.
Ballard has already stated this early offseason that he doesn’t want another stopgap, but a long-term answer at the game’s most important position:
Ballard doesn’t think Wentz’s cap situation for 2022 will have a big impact on their decision.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) January 13, 2022
“I’d like to quit band-aiding it. I’d like for Carson to be the long-term answer or for somebody to be here for the next 10 years.”
None potentially available would be bigger than either Rodgers (even if it’s four or five seasons) or Wilson, who would instantly catapult the Colts into AFC contention again—especially if the franchise could add another dynamic playmaker at either tight end or wide receiver this offseason to pair with 1,000 yard receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (i.e., a top free agent wideout like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, or Michael Gallup could all be ideal fits).
The erratic play of Wentz has appeared to be too much for the Colts to trust him anymore going forward. While he had a solid stretch during the middle of the season, the bottom completely fell out on him to close out the season—and significantly contributed to the team’s late year embarrassing collapse.
When Indianapolis needed him the most to elevate his play or that of his teammates, Wentz proved incapable of making routine throws and was turnover prone during critical moments of games.
There’s no such questions regarding Rodgers—at least on the field (who’s faced national controversy regarding his recent position on COVID-19 vaccinations).
At 38 years old, the frontrunner for the 2021 NFL MVP Award has completed 366 of 531 throws (68.9%) for 4,115 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions during 16 starts.
He’s a Super Bowl XLV Champion, Super Bowl MVP (XLV), 3x NFL MVP, 4x NFL First-Team All-Pro, 1x NFL Second-Team All-Pro, 10x NFL Pro Bowler, and member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team among his other numerous career accolades.
Having had building frustration with the Packers front office, Rodgers has one year left on his current contract with a cap hit of $46.1M in 2022—as the initial final year of his contract in 2023 was voided following a contentious contract restructuring last offseason.
It’s possible the Packers could look to trade him and recoup otherwise lost value—especially with former 2020 first round pick Jordan Love waiting in the wings and with Rodgers entering a walk year. (It’s also possible former Colts punting great Pat McAfee could put in a good word to Rodgers, a regular on The Pat McAfee Show, about joining Indy).
Meanwhile, even though he’s coming off of a bit of a down season for his usually high standards (having battled through a broken finger), there’s no question that Wilson would be a significant upgrade to Wentz in any capacity.
During the 2021 campaign, the 33 year old completed 259 of 400 throws (64.8%) for 3,113 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions in 14 starts.
Wilson’s a Super Bowl XLVIII Champion, Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient, 1x NFL 2nd-Team All-Pro, and 8x NFL Pro Bowler on his impressive Canton-bound resume.
He’s due a $26M cap hit in 2022, and with two years left on his current contract, Wilson has already expressed interest in eventually moving on from Seattle—as there looks like there could finally be a nucleus breakup between ownership, head coach Pete Carroll, and their superstar quarterback after many years of success.
Both elite quarterbacks can make the big-time throws during the course of a game, but also are willing to take what the defensive gives them when necessary—throwing to underneath routes or checking down to still get productive yardage to help move the sticks and sustain lengthy scoring drives. Both have proven they can rise up in critical in-game moments—even on the game’s biggest stages, while taking care of the football.
It also helps that either all-time great is mobile, which allows Reich to continue to run his ideal offense featuring quarterback play-action, RPOs, and bootlegs to complement superstar running back Jonathan Taylor and the oftentimes, dominant Indy ground game.
Speaking of Taylor, as a bona fide NFL MVP candidate, he’s the Colts best player, and it’s time Indianapolis starts adjusting any contending Super Bowl window around him. While he takes incredible care of his body, there’s also a lot of mileage on those tires already and the shelf-life of NFL running backs isn’t ordinarily long.
He realistically has a handful of peak seasons still ahead, and it’s time to take full advantage of them. That means putting all the chips in for a Rodgers or Wilson for an immediate sizable upgrade for 2022 and going forward—for at least the next handful of seasons.
Despite needs at several key positions, this team isn’t that far off, and if the Colts can significantly upgrade at quarterback—just as Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck once showed in franchise history, that can clearly mask deficiencies at other key positions.
However, is all of this even realistically possible?
While the Colts are already down their 2022 first round pick from the Carson Wentz trade, the Los Angeles Rams have proven in recent history that anything is possible—even with depleted draft picks regarding their trades for both Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford.
(It’s also worth noting that if Ballard is as good at scouting as he’s been regarded league-wide, he should still be able to find and add value outside the first round of the NFL Draft.)
Entering the 2022 offseason, the Colts also have $42.075M of total available team cap space without even touching Carson Wentz’s contract, who’s due a $28.3M cap hit for the 2022 season. If the Colts release Wentz before March 19th (when an additional $7M of his 2022 contract becomes guaranteed), they can save a total of $13.3M on his 2022 contract (while undertaking a dead cap hit of $15M). [There’s also a remote chance the Colts could look to trade Wentz all together, potentially saving even more team cap space].
Not exactly ideal, but not necessarily a game-breaker either—by any means, for the Colts still making a splash acquisition at starting quarterback this offseason.
Irsay is clearly frustrated right now, and if Indianapolis cannot finally solve their lingering questions at starting quarterback, this team will be stuck in the mud for the foreseeable future—despite a solidly constructed, well-rounded roster otherwise (even acknowledging holes at several important positions).
Ask any Colts fan, and I’m willing to venture that they’d rather take 3 to 4 seasons of serious Super Bowl contention, and then 3 to 4 seasons of an ensuing rebuild, than suffer through 6-8 years collectively of barely making or missing the playoffs—and never actually truly contending for a Lombardi Trophy push. After all, this franchise has one playoff win in the last 5 seasons.
Quite frankly, it’s time to go all in with a Rodgers or Wilson—if the option actually realistically presents itself.
No questions asked.