The Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Quandary

Indianapolis Colts Quarterback
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The news of the Indianapolis Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck retiring at the age of 29 was shocking. The news still rocks the sports world and throughout the franchise of Indianapolis just a few weeks before the start of the 2019 NFL season. Whether people support Luck for the recovery of his health or hate him for “deserting his team,” the Colts are moving on. This leaves Jacoby Brissett as the starting quarterback once again for the Colts for the season opener. Brissett started the 2017 season for the Colts while Luck was out recovering from a complicated shoulder surgery.

Colts fans and personnel are optimistic for the season with Brissett as the starting quarterback. He certainly has experience when he started 15 out of 16 games for the Colts in 2017. In that season, he threw for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdown, and seven interceptions for 276 completions (out of 469 attempts). He also rushed for 260 yards and four touchdowns (team-high) on 63 carries. Brissett performed well despite the lack of efficient coaching and playmakers from teammates (outside of tight end Jack Doyle and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton). The Colts have a better team and better coaching staff going into 2019. They did take a big hit when it comes to the NFL power rankings due to Luck’s retirement. A week before Luck retired, the Colts were ranked seventh. Afterward, the Colts are ranked 21st by Bleacher Report in their power rankings.

Keeping Brissett Means He Is the Colts New Franchise Quarterback

Brissett has been participating throughout the preseason as the number one quarterback while Luck was out with a calf strain. The Colts have been preparing for the 2019 season as if either Luck or Brissett was their starter for the season. Brissett will be leading a new Colts team with a stout offensive line that allowed only 18 sacks last season. This was the least amount of sacks given up by any offensive line. Brissett also has the playbook knowledge and experience to once again lead this team as they have not given up expectations for winning the AFC South and a potential Super Bowl run. Both general manager Chris Ballard and second-year head coach Frank Reich believe in Brissett as their starter. If Brissett gets to the Colts to the playoffs for the second year in a row, then this will likely give him the permanent starting quarterback role.

Brissett will be a free agent in 2020 as he is in the final year of his rookie contract when he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2016. He will receive $2.025 million from the Colts this season. If the Colts win the AFC South under his leadership or puts up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers, he will ask for a high-value contract. This off-season, the Colts will have the most projected salary cap space in the NFL worth $85 million. Without Luck as their starting quarterback, the Colts’ projected wins went from 10 to six. They also have the worst odds to win the AFC South by Bleacher Report and the third-worst by Vegas. Brissett is expecting to earn the high-value contract by proving the doubters wrong of the Colts’ downgrade.

Look for a New Franchise Quarterback Via the 2020 NFL Draft or Free Agency

If Brissett gets the Colts to another 4-12 type season without Luck playing at all, the team might look for a new franchise quarterback. The Colts, even without Luck, are much more talented than the Miami Dolphins or the Oakland Raiders even if they are not playoff-worthy. That means the potential of getting Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is unlikely. If the Colts fail to make the playoffs but they win a significant amount of games, they could be within the 12th to 19th pick in the first round. Quarterbacks to possibly be selected within these picks would be Jake Fromm (Georgia Bulldogs) or Jacob Eason (Washington Huskies). These are players that can potentially be the franchise quarterback if the Colts can’t or won’t establish Brissett as their future.

The Colts did bring in free agent Brock Osweiler on Tuesday for depth and a possible backup role to Brissett. If Brissett struggles as the starter with a talented roster, coach Reich might use Osweiler or second-year quarterback Chad Kelly as their starter for the remainder of the season. After the season, the Colts can use that $85 million in salary-cap space for a more established quarterback that will be a free agent after the 2019 season. These free agent quarterbacks (as of right now) include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Case Keenum. The Colts could also bring in Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, who are both in the last year of their contracts with the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers respectively. The Titans and/or the Buccaneers are looking to find a new franchise quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Time Will Tell What Indy Will Do

There is so much speculation as to what the Colts could do with Brissett or acquire a future franchise quarterback eventually. The Colts are highly confident in Brissett as their quarterback for the 2019 NFL season. They will be playing against a tough and grueling schedule that could derail their season more than anything. The Colts have no plans to tank or throw their season away with so much potential including Brissett. It will be difficult for any quarterback to replace Andrew Luck as their permanent franchise quarterback but right now, the Colts are looking to claim their first AFC South Divisional title since the 2014 NFL season. This will solve many questions the media and Colts fans have on their team going forward.

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