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Colts May Have Gone for ‘Big Fish’ at Starting Quarterback, But Expectedly Came Home Empty-Handed

The Colts came back with empty nets, but maybe not from a lack of clear trying.

Seattle Seahawks v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts did not land either one of the two ‘big fish’ potentially available this early offseason at starting quarterback, as the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers is reportedly re-signing with the only franchise he’s ever known in Wisconsin, while the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson was shockingly traded to the Denver Broncos.

Rodgers ultimately re-signing with the Packers is hardly surprising. It always seemed like Green Bay was still at worst, the slight favorite for having Rodgers finish his career there. Specifically, it’s a team that finished with the NFC’s best regular season record in 2021 (13-4), and he gets to throw to one of the best wideouts in all of football: Davante Adams.

It’s worth noting that prior to his new deal, the Colts did reportedly at least contact Rodgers’ agent to see what his new contract demands ‘hypothetically’ would be—if a blockbuster trade between Indianapolis and Green Bay were to actually occur.

The surprise of the day was Seattle trading its 33-year old quarterback, Wilson, to Denver for the winning package that included two first round picks (one the 9th overall pick in 2021), two second round picks, defensive tackle Shelby Harris, and tight end Noah Fant:

Unfortunately, the Colts couldn’t seriously compete in this shootout with Denver (already lacking one of their pistols from the holster)—having lost their 2021 first round pick in the Carson Wentz trade last offseason. It’s also been reported that armed with a no-trade clause, “[t]he Broncos were the only team Wilson was interested in going to.”

Although regarding Wilson, it’s unclear whether the Colts, without a current first round pick, ever seriously entered the fray among his potential trade suitors and were even considered a realistic option at any point of then ongoing trade negotiations.

For what it’s worth, besides the Washington Commanders and of course, the Broncos, there was at least one other unnamed team who attempted to trade for Wilson—maybe the Colts, but also maybe not. Prior to the trade, Colts team owner Jim Irsay reportedly ‘was a huge Russell Wilson fan’—but which quarterback needy team’s owner wasn’t.

Despite ‘all the chips being in’, the Colts are now caught between a rock and a hard place at pursuing a starting quarterback upgrade. There’s potentially the San Francisco 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo or the Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr via trade—the latter looking like much more of a longshot, signing reclamation projects such as free agents Mitch Trubisky or Marcus Mariota, or even drafting a young quarterback in Round 2 of this year’s NFL Draft.

While all have a chance to be good—but not without clear risk, with the exception of likely Carr, none of them are the surefire significant upgrade like a Rodgers or Wilson otherwise would be from the get-go, no questions asked.

The Colts are now in a loaded AFC at starting quarterback facing the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson, and there’s a serious question of whether they can ‘keep up with the Joneses’ to be a serious conference playoff contender going forward—without a clear upgrade behind center.

One can’t be too furious for the Colts coming home empty-handed on Rodgers or Wilson—as they were never considered a frontrunner in the first place (and always faced relatively long odds), but it’s fair to say the seemingly failed Wentz trade (and namely now, the draft capital surrendered) clearly has set the franchise back a bit in the short-term.