The Colts will likely be on the lookout for one other beginning quarterback in 2021 after one-year starter Philip Rivers’ choice to retire from the NFL. Though Indianapolis might not have re-signed Rivers as a pending free agent, anyway, the crew can now formally progress to different QB plans.
With backup Jacoby Brissett unsigned, Jacob Eason, the Colts’ fourth-round decide within the 2020 NFL Draft, tops the present depth chart on the sport’s most necessary place. However as they’re projected to be round $65 million underneath the wage cap and will likely be choosing first at No. 21 total within the 2021 draft, the Colts have loads of assets with which to land a longer-term franchise possibility.
Between who is likely to be obtainable to them by way of free company, draft and commerce, here is exploring Indianapolis’ prime avenues to switch and improve from Rivers:
Colts’ 10 finest QB choices in 2021
1) Draft Mac Jones within the first spherical
Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni have an amazing, balanced scheme the place smarts, toughness and accuracy will be main property, with passing effectively enjoying off a sound working sport. Jones, recent off Alabama’s championship run, would not essentially wow along with his athleticism and arm, however he makes good selections and is able to making all of the throws.
The Colts have to rebuild their offensive line a bit with left deal with Anthony Castonzo becoming a member of Rivers in retirement and in addition might additional reshuffle their receiving corps with T.Y. Hilton unsigned. However they can provide Jones one other sturdy assist system to achieve success as a pocket passer.
Staying put at No. 21, the Colts want to fret about Washington (No. 19) or the Bears (No. 20) leaping them for Jones. If he is nonetheless on the board, nevertheless, he can be onerous to move vs. taking a Castonzo or Hilton alternative.
2) Commerce as much as draft Trey Lance within the first spherical
After Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence goes to the Jaguars, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson should not final lengthy on the board, probably gone within the prime 10, too. However Lance, the entire North Dakota State product, is again rising up boards to the purpose that he can go wherever between No. 11 and No. 20. Lance, with the identical faculty pedigree as Carson Wentz, ought to have some attraction to Reich, the person who’s gotten the most effective out of Wentz within the NFL.
Lance affords a much bigger arm, extra athleticism and larger upside than Jones, even when he may want a bit extra preliminary polish to supply within the NFL along with his restricted faculty enjoying expertise. The Colts may get aggressive to get him, however in no way are they settling for Jones, who has the psychological make-up to have a protracted professional profession.
3) Draft Kyle Trask within the first spherical
Trask, along with his model of arm and athleticism and his passing model of spreading the ball round and getting it out rapidly, is a pure slot in Reich’s trendy model of the West Coast scheme. He has a few of Jones’ qualities and is used to working in an offense the place working inside to tight finish and slot are staples.
Trask could also be extra of a borderline first-rounder than Jones at this level, however he can be a reasonably good Plan C. With extra developmental initiatives on the board after Trask, the Colts will not discover an instantaneous starter within the draft with out falling again on Trask, at worst with a slight commerce down.
4) Commerce for Deshaun Watson
The Colts, like each QB-needy NFL crew in 2021, would like to have Watson. The issue is, it is extraordinarily onerous, however not unprecedented, to tug off a giant QB commerce with a division rival (see Donovan McNabb, from Philadelphia to Washington). The Colts additionally haven’t got the most effective place to begin for a deal involving first-round picks topped by No. 21 total.
If there’s any probability GM Chris Ballard can one way or the other make it work and finagle Watson away from Houston with the most effective supply, he ought to give it a shot. In any other case, it is a lengthy one vs. non-division groups who can higher compensate.
5) Commerce for Matt Ryan
The Falcons, with new offensive-minded coach Arthur Smith, are being tied extra into taking a brand new franchise QB within the first spherical at No. 4, both Fields or Wilson. Though there is a state of affairs by which Atlanta would try this extra with the intention of grooming that rookie to switch Ryan because the starter in 2022, there is a approach the crew can commerce Ryan in 2021.
Say their potential first-rounder blows them away in the course of the pre-draft course of and continues to show he is able to enjoying instantly at a excessive stage early in offseason exercises. Then the Falcons can transfer Ryan after June 1 for restricted useless cash ($17.9 million) and strong wage cap reduction ($26.5 million), one thing that will be cost-prohibitive earlier than then. The Colts would have to be affected person right here and have a contingency simply in case this cannot be labored out, and it could actually solely work out if the Falcons lock into taking a QB excessive.
6) Commerce for Jimmy Garoppolo
In the meantime, the 49ers can transfer on from and transfer Garoppolo with no points as quickly because the league yr begins in March. A commerce would value them solely $2.8 million in useless cash and include nice cap reduction of $23.4 million. The Colts and 49ers have been good commerce companions final yr, when sending defensive deal with DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for a first-rounder labored for each side.
Garoppolo has proved adaptable to schemes, making a profitable transition from Josh McDaniels’ Erhardt-Perkins mastery to Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast experience. Garoppolo is healthier off as a dependent QB, and the Colts have the road, working sport and pass-catchers to get the most effective out of him of their system. Ryan, who thrived most for Shanahan, is the larger prize, however Garoppolo also can assist the Colts proceed to win lots of video games.
7) Commerce for Carson Wentz
With no Rivers, there is a clear path to a Wentz reunion with Reich. The issue is, the firing of Doug Pederson means that Eagles proprietor Jeffery Lurie would love his new teaching workers to make it work and function nicely with Wentz, quite than second-year second-rounder Jalen Hurts. There isn’t any doubt that the Colts can afford to deliver on the rest of Wentz’s contract, which might be round $25 million a yr, which is how a lot they paid Rivers for one yr.
If the Colts suppose Wentz will be particular with Reich once more, they may drive the Eagles’ hand and make Howie Roseman extra compelled to vary the mind-set in Philadelphia. Do not rule out this selection for Ballard simply but.
8) Commerce for Matthew Stafford
The Lions may additionally transfer on from their veteran QB with a shot at both Fields or Wilson at No. 7 total, because the new mixture of GM Brad Holmes and coach Dan Campbell look to make their early stamp in getting the crew again on the profitable observe. Detroit would not have a contract out with Stafford fairly as unhealthy as Atlanta does with Ryan or fairly nearly as good as San Francisco has with Garoppolo. Buying and selling Stafford earlier than June 1 will value an excellent chunk of useless cash ($19 million) but in addition some wholesome cap financial savings ($14 million).
Stafford can win in Reich’s system, however the match would not be as pure as it’s for the QBs listed above, together with the rookies. Nonetheless, if the win-now Colts are decided to switch Rivers with an analogous completed veteran vs. a rookie, what the Lions think about doing on the place must be on the Colts’ radar.
9) Re-sign Jacoby Brissett
Brissett acquired his probability to start out after the retirement of Andrew Luck two years in the past and the offense was restricted. Behind Rivers, his principal position was as a short-yardage and goal-line QB. He is had extra time to soak up Reich’s system as a backup and a revered chief on the crew. The Colts may at all times give him one other shot if no different plans work out. With Dak Prescott actually not obtainable, bringing again Brissett vs. different crew’s free brokers is healthier than choosing one other unfamiliar bridge QB.
10) Roll with Jacob Eason
How about staying in-house? With Eason’s improvement not being accelerated as a rookie, this can be a onerous second-year promote, very like the Patriots tried to make everybody consider Jarrett Stidham was the definitive alternative for Tom Brady till the summer season signing of Cam Newton.
The Colts needed to like lots of Eason’s attributes when taking a Day 3 shot on him, however there’s little probability they may flip over the expert offense of a playoff crew over to him with so many different choices.