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Colts ‘Have to Think Outside the Box’ at Starting QB—As Derek Carr Trade Speculation Swirls

There’s still one potential ‘longshot’ significant starting quarterback upgrade for the Colts—and there’s been some recent smoke on trade rumors.

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts continue to search for a starting quarterback upgrade, and speculation is swirling whether general manager Chris Ballard could turn his attention to the best potential realistically available option, the Las Vegas Raiders’ Derek Carr:

“That’s the big mystery here,” said The MMQB’s Albert Breer on ‘The Rich Eisen Show’ regarding the Colts’ current plans at starting quarterback. “I saw, obviously our friend Ian (Rapoport) mention Jimmy Garoppolo the other day. I know (Mike) Florio mentioned Kirk Cousins. I’d be stunned if Chris Ballard didn’t pick up the phone and call Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler about Derek Carr. I mean maybe he asks them if there’s something creative that could happen with Derek Carr going to Indy and maybe Jimmy Garoppolo going to Vegas. You know, they have to think outside the box like that.”

It comes just a day after Eisen himself said as follows on his own show, “I’m not making it up. I’ll just tell you stuff that I heard. In Indianapolis, they’re going to try and maybe go YOLO for Derek Carr.”

Even longtime Colts punting legend Pat McAfee was talking about it on Thursday:

While not necessarily elite, the 30 year old Carr can be a really good starting NFL quarterback—especially in Frank Reich’s ‘quarterback friendly’ offense. Backed by All-Pro Jonathan Taylor and an oftentimes dominant running game, as well as a strong Colts defense, he’s more than good enough to make a deep AFC playoff run with (although maybe an upgrade that still falls short of a realistic Super Bowl berth given the AFC’s elite passers right now).

Perhaps armed with a projected $69.8M of available team salary cap space, the Colts could find another high-end wideout to pair with Michael Pittman Jr. too in free agency to add to Carr and a revamped Indy passing game.

Carr completed 428 of 626 throws (68.4%) for 4,804 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a passer rating of 94.0 during 17 starts in 2021.

He led the Raiders (10-7) to a surprising AFC playoff appearance, and who can forget this super clutch play late against Indy All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard to help win the game against the Colts in Week 17—and keep Las Vegas’s season alive:

Of course, the issue with Carr is at what exorbitant cost will it take to acquire him?

The Raiders aren’t going to give him up for free and after seeing what the Denver Broncos just gave up for Russell Wilson—and the Washington Commanders even for Carson Wentz, the price would be assuredly steep (particularly because the Raiders have no real reason to deal him other than that the AFC West is now increasingly loaded. There’s no Trey Lance waiting in the wings in Las Vegas either).

Early picks given up? Likely a handful, but if the Colts start getting into multiple first round picks surrendered in trade negotiations, it’s time to walk away from the poker table.

If acquired, Carr presents a clear upgrade and puts the Colts back into the AFC playoffs—and maybe back as kings of the AFC South, but he doesn’t quite shift the power balance in the AFC where Indianapolis is considered a serious Super Bowl contender. It would seem to me that they’d be in the next tier of ‘pretty good’ AFC teams. Worth making a move to upgrade certainly—if it’s within reason, but not worth giving up ‘the farm’ either.