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Should the Colts keep Gardner Minshew next season?

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gardner Minshew has been a life saver for the Colts this season. After rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered three injuries in the first month of the season, with the last one causing him to miss the remainder of the season, Minshew has come in and gotten the Colts into a playoff spot. His play has not been pretty at times, but his random spurts of great play has helped the Colts get to 8 wins. He has a record of 6-4 as a starter this season.

The Colts signed Minshew to a 1 year deal worth $3,500,000 but also has an additional $2,000,000 in playing time incentives which I’m almost certain he has hit or will hit. At $5,500,000 he is one of the best bargains in the league because without him the Colts are surely not a playoff team and you could argue they are a bottom 5 team. The question remains, with Anthony Richardson taking the reigns back next season, is it in the best interest for the Colts to keep Minshew? The short answer is yes, but his pay will surely increase, which could make the situation more complicated.

Projecting his Contract

Minshew has established himself as one of the premier backups in the league and in a ranking of the best quarterbacks in the league (when all healthy), he would probably fall in the 21-26 range. Finding equivalent players is often quite difficult for players like Minshew. The following 4 players should serve as decent starting points:

  • Jacoby Brissett - 1 year, 8M signed in 2023
  • Mitchell Trubisky - 2 years, 11.5M signed in 2022 (worth 12.4M in 2023)
  • Andy Dalton - 2 years, 10M signed in 2023
  • Taylor Heinicke - 2 years, 14M signed in 2023

The average of these contracts is around 2 years, 12.5M but adjusting for the 8% salary cap increase in 2024, that becomes 2 years at 13.5M. That of course is just the average of those players. In my opinion, that is the starting point of Minshew’s contract since he has performed better than all of those players and has been valuable for the Colts.

I project that the following 6-8 teams will be in the market for a quarterback: Bears, Falcons, Raiders, Patriots, Giants, Steelers and maybe the Buccaneers and Commanders. The quarterback market will be led by 2-3 good rookies, Justin Fields, Baker Mayfield (if he’s not re-signed by Tampa), Jake Browning (via trade), Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo and a myriad of veteran backups led by Gardner Minshew. This doesn’t include or consider what the Falcons do with Ridder, what the Giants do with Jones, or what the Steelers do with Pickett. The quarterback market has some decent candidates which will not push demand for a player like Minshew. That’s why I believe that the Colts won’t have to be a bidding war with another team for him since Minshew would most likely leave for a starting job and as you can see there may not be any interest for Minshew as a starter.

Nevertheless, he is still as good a backup as you can have, and considering the starting point we determined before and the fact that he performed as well as any backup in the league this season, I project his contract to be:

2 Years, $16,000,000 with $6,500,000 Guaranteed

Is it worth Re-Signing?

To me it’s a not brainer even if it’s more than the projected contract. While the Colts can go out and draft a backup in the middle rounds or sign another one for half the cost, what Minshew brings is experience and proof. He now has 2 years of experience in Shane Steichen’s offense and he has proof that he can operate it well enough to get the Colts into or close to a playoff spot. That is something that no other quarterback on the market can say.

Minshew is also well liked in the locker room and has a good relationship with Anthony Richardson, which should make the signing that much easier. If the Colts are going to build their offense around Richardson, a good backup and mentor goes a long way for a player’s development, as said by many of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. So not only is Minshew a security blanket, but he is a positive influence for many, including the franchise player. He’s worth every penny he asks for this offseason.