With the trade of Carson Wentz, it means the Colts are in the quarterback market for what seems like the 50th year in a row. This year, their options are relatively thin, but there are still some players out there that can be of tremendous benefit to the Colts.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
With Wentz off the market, it means that Jimmy G is unequivocally the hottest name on the market right now. Despite the crap he gets, Jimmy G gets the job done and has played in a lot of big games. Over the past 2 seasons, he has a 97.8 passer rating, a 27:17 TD to INT ratio and averages 233 yards per game and a whopping 8.4 yards per attempt.
We always talk about quarterbacks who can get you to a Super Bowl and with Garoppolo, he’s already done it and was very close to doing it this year. The 49ers had two incredible teams in those deep runs, but what it showed is that you can get to a Super Bowl with Garoppolo as your quarterback. If that’s what the Colts are looking for, then Garoppolo is definitely the best available option right now.
2. Matt Ryan
Although I wouldn’t consider Matt Ryan available, he isn’t unavailable. Coach Arthur Smith has hinted at taking trade offers for Matt Ryan and Arthur Blank has spoken openly about a Matt Ryan succession plan. For the right price, Ryan can be in a Colts uniform. The question is: do the Colts want to have Matt Ryan?
The short answer should be yes, because in my opinion, the only better long-term option at quarterback of the players on the market is Garoppolo. Ryan, even if for only 2 to 4 years, would be a better option over that period over anyone else, including the rookie quarterbacks that will be available to the Colts in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Ryan has won an MVP and even though his last few years have been below average for his standards, he has still shown the ability to perform above average, and it’s worth noting that his recent years in Atlanta were with an offense that would rank in the bottom 5 of the NFL with a quarterback of lesser caliber. He can make all the throws, and he can tend to make some bad ones every now and then, but he has proven that he can take teams in the playoffs and deep. His lifetime career stats in the playoffs are fantastic with a passer rating over 100, a 20:7 TD to INT ratio and a Super Bowl run.
3. Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is a free agent, so the Colts wouldn’t have to give up assets to acquire him, just cap space. Bridgewater has essentially been the same quarterback throughout his NFL career: safe and conservative. He is essentially a better version of what the Colts had with Jacoby Brissett, in the sense that he’s a quarterback who will look to make short, high percentage passes and not take many risks.
If the Colts want to keep turnover worthy plays to a minimum, then Bridgewater is their guy, but it’s become glaringly obvious that Bridgewater will not win you any big games.
4. Taylor Heinicke
With the Commanders having their new quarterback, it means their old quarterback is officially on the market. Firstly, for the record, I will state that I’ve always had a soft spot for Taylor Heinicke, ever since I watched him play at Old Dominion and he was in my top 4 quarterbacks from the 2015 draft class (after Winston, Mariota and Hundley). He had everything you wanted in a quarterback except the arm and his ability to operate a pro style offense at the time. All these years later, the big knock against him (and rightfully so) is his arm, but he isn’t afraid to take risks and he has shown the ability to make big time throws. Below is my scouting report on him from 2015.
What we know about Frank Reich is his ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks. Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers and even Carson Wentz (for his standards before he completely fell apart in December) were having above average seasons during their time with Reich.
What intrigues me about Heinicke is his “gamer” ability. He shows up when the big moments matter. Thrown in at the last second in a playoff game against Tom Brady, he performed extremely admirably with 300+ yards, 2 touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush) and came close to upsetting the eventual Super Bowl champion Bucs. This last season, in his first year as a starter, he had a 65% completion, 7 yards per throw, 20:15 TD to INT ratio and an 86 passer rating with 313 rushing yards.
Those numbers aren’t eye popping by any means, but those were done with offensive coaches who aren’t of the quality of Frank Reich and behind an offensive line that isn’t as good as the Colts’, plus he’ll see more favourable coverages with more teams pressing against Jonathan Taylor. Now, while this is the case for any of the other quarterbacks on this list (especially the last part), Heinicke has more of a mystery factor to him that is intriguing.
The next kicker to Heinicke is this his trade price will be very low (mid round pick) and his cap hit in 2022 is 2.875M. That means that if the Colts trade for him, they could have somewhere between 64 and 67 million dollars in cap space and even if you include the draft class, future extensions (Nelson being the big one) and in-season transactions, the Colts could still easily spend 45-50M dollars this season. That could be used on getting receiver help, a left tackle, and/or a tight end, all of which can seriously aid Heinicke.
While I’m likely biased towards Heinicke, I do believe there’s a world where he can thrive and be the best option for the Colts. Perhaps it isn’t this world, but who knows?
The consensus top 5 (in no particular order) for this year’s draft are Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder. There are some arguments for others but most experts agree on those 5. It most definitely sounds like Pickett and Willis will be gone sometime in the 1st round and while some drafts have Corral going in the early 2nd, most others have him in the mid to late 1st round. That would leave the Colts with Howell and Ridder. If either of them are even there in the 2nd round, are either of them able to start right away and have an impact. If they aren’t, then the Colts would need a short term solution at quarterback, which brings us right back to the beginning of this article! I believe both quarterbacks operated quarterback friendly offenses and they will require time and development as backups before being able to start, so I don’t believe either of those 2 players are day 1 starters. So, for the Colts, there isn’t an immediate or short term answer, but that shouldn’t deter them from going after a guy.
Why Not Deshaun Watson?
The Colts front office and Frank Reich have always preached high character players and having a strong locker room. Despite the no criminal charges being filed against Watson, it doesn’t mean he will come out of all of this unscathed. The NFL will likely suspend him and there are still civil suits that are to be played out in court. Even without those two things, there are now red flags about his character that I can’t imagine Jim Irsay would sign off on.